Shell introduces new extraction diluent to increase metal extraction

Shell's Global Business Development Manager Monica Karamagi presented ShellSol 2046NA, a new solvent that will increase metal extraction.

ShellSol 2046NA slows crud formation and has a high boiling point to prevent evaporation, says Karamagi who spoke to MINING.com at MINExpo 2016 in September. She says the solvent has already been tested in mines in Africa, South America, and Australia.

Transcript edited for clarity:

MINING.COM: What is Shell Chemicals?

Monica Karamagi: We supply the mining diluents that are used in solvent subtraction processes.

MINING.COM:What is unique about the products solvents that you are providing to clients?

Monica Karamagi: We are very excited to have, for the first time in North America, ShellSol 2046NA. This Shellsol 2046 product might be recognized by mining customers as one of the leading diluents when it comes to subtracting copper metal. It is really a superior diluent in terms of its extraction efficiency and disengagement time. It is very fast with copper selectivity, so you have a more efficient process and a very clean process due to lower crud formation in your copper circuit.

ShellSol 2046 has been used in Australia, It has also been used in Africa and South America and so we are really pleased here in MINExpo to be able to introduce this to North America mining customers.

MINING.COM: What are the advantages of the product?

Monica Karamagi: There are different types of mining diluents. The goal of the solvents extraction processes is to maximize your yield of copper ore that’s coming out of the metal. Depending upon the type of diluent you select and the type of extractive that you select, you can have a high-yield process or a low-yield process. So, the primary goal is to pick a diluent that would yield you the highest concentrations of copper from your process, because that’s the actual final outcome that the mine is going for.

You also would like to have a low evaporation rate, so that your total cost of use in the process is as low as possible. If you have a fast-evaporating solvent, then you are continuously topping off and replenishing your circuit, which is money out the window. Products like Shellsol 2046 with very low evaporation rate provides that stable process in the circuit, to allow for a long in-use life of your diluent.

MINING.COM: What are the metrics that you are measuring, in terms of the effectiveness of the product?

Monica Karamagi: Well, specifically on evaporation rate there is actual ASTM test that you can do to compare the evaporation rate of various diluents, and we have that data in our booth, and folks can come and look at that.

When you are looking at copper yield, you are looking at the selectivity of the organic phase. You are looking at how selective it is at picking the target metal out of your ore, so that’s another metric that we look at.

Phase disengagement time is very important because you are looking at how fast your process is happening—how fast your layers are separating and your metals are being extracted.

MINING.COM: How are you introducing this product to clients?

Monica Karamagi: We have been very active already in the market, meeting with the leading metal mines here in the Americas region. We will be very visible in the market here in the next few months in a bulk manner.

MINING.COM: How do you do return of investment for a client?

Monica Karamagi: So the ROI typically comes from your top nine yields and how much copper you can efficiently extract out of your ore. Return on investment also measures how much your costs can be reduced. So we talk about helping the mining customer to maximize their profitability in both forms: in terms of increasing their copper selectivity and yield of copper or uranium, or zinc, or whatever the target metal is, and also reducing their in-use cost via a more efficient process to achieve a higher yield of copper or via a cleaner process, so that they have less crud.

Crud formation is really an unnecessary burden that mine operators have to deal with. In essence it's a layer of unwanted metals, algae, and bacteria that forms in the middle of the circuit that the mine has to pause and get rid of before returning to efficient extraction of copper. So, we also aim to reduce that crud formation and increase the productivity of the process that way.