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MEI Online: Biotechnology: Latest News: August 29th 2003


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:: Breakthrough in Zinc Extraction Technology

Teck Cominco Limited is pleased to announce the successful development of a new, low-cost process for the direct extraction of zinc metal from sulphide ores. The new process, patents pending and known as the HydroZinc™ process, involves bioleaching of ore in heaps with naturally-occurring bacteria, followed by neutralization, solvent extraction and electrowinning.

Under investigation for over four years, the process was developed by Teck Cominco Research at Trail and Kimberley BC. The pilot plant, which was operated from October 2000 until December 2002, has a nominal capacity of 1 tonne per day of electrolytic zinc. Two separate test heaps were constructed, treating a total of approximately 10,000 tonnes of ore from Teck Cominco’s Red Dog Mine in Alaska.

The HydroZinc™ process, a direct ore to metal process which does not require grinding and flotation of the ore, produced zinc with total direct operating costs of 20 cents per pound. The process is applicable to a variety of zinc ores. The hydrometallurgical process is environmentally sound and free of sulphur dioxide handling and emissions.


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