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Dissolution mechanisms of elemental sulfur during biooxidation of a refractory high-sulfur gold concentrate

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2018, Vol. 35, No. 4, pp. 192-201

Song, Y.; Yang, H.Y.; Tong, L.L.; Huang, S.T.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.19150/mmp.8596


For gold recovery, a Chinese refractory, high-sulfur gold concentrate was subjected to biooxidation with high pulp density in a single stirred-tank reactor. The flotation concentrate contained 36.9 percent sulfur (S) and 33.9 percent iron (Fe). Different experimental regimes for biooxidation were applied. With a mixed culture and by controlling the amount of addition of the gold ores and the pH of the biooxidation system, maximum iron oxidation of 82.6 percent and sulfur oxidation of 79.3 percent were achieved. The experimental results indicate that the pH control was beneficial to the biooxidation of this concentrate. Approximately 28.4 percent of elemental sulfur (S8 ) was found in the oxidizing slags. Two dissolution mechanisms of elemental sulfur are proposed: (1) FeS2 → S80 →S2O32−→ SO42− and (2) FeS2 → S80 → SO42−. The high pH had a positive effect on the reduction of the S8. The results of thermodynamic analysis indicate that as an oxidant the dissolved oxygen can effectively reduce the Gibbs free energy of the pyrite oxidation process and, compared with the reaction of ferric iron as the single oxidant, the oxidation of pyrite is easier. The ef?ciency of the gold recovery was related to the iron oxidation as well as the sulfur oxidation. Gold and silver recoveries of 92.4 percent and 66.4 percent, respectively, were achieved.