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Secondary Copper Processing

The secondary processing of copper from scrap has many of the same processes as conventional processing except for the mineral processing steps. The process involved in recovering copper from scrap material depends on the grade. High-grade scrap is virtually pure copper, which needs only to be re-melted and cast into useful shapes. Lower grade material is processed by pyrometallurgical methods and electrorefining (See Pyrometallurgical Processing of Copper). While the furnaces are slightly different than those used to smelt sulfide concentrates, the processing is essential the same. A significant difference can occur in the resulting composition of the copper anode because scrap can contain large amounts of other metallic elements. This results in higher impurity loading in the anode than those produced from clean ores, which can aggravate problems during electrorefining. To illustrate this point two anode compositions are listed in Table 1. The two anodes were submitted by the same electrorefinery. The anode form ore was produced by the company's smelter. The other was being toll refined for a secondary copper producer. It should not be assumed that dirtier anodes come from a secondary producer. By blending different grades of scrap, secondary smelters can achieve anode impurity levels lower than anodes produced from complex ores.

Table 1

Comparison of Anode Compositions from Ore and Scrap

Impurity

Anode from Ore

Anode from Scrap

Se

805

20

Te

133

16

As

402

654

Sb

500

1069

Bi

195

274

Ni

1045

3456

Pb

307

387

Sn

43

153

Fe

11

9

Zn

8

13

Ag

1589

352

Au

18

1

O

2124

1548

For more information check out the DocCopper's Copper Book List.


Continue on one of following links:

Copper Processing Homepage
Pyrometallurgical Processing of Copper
Hydrometallurgcal Processing of Copper