Leaching behaviour and the solution consumption of uranium-vanadium ore in alkali carbonate–bicarbonate column leaching
Reason for embargo
Although heap leaching using sulfuric acid was introduced to the uranium industry in the 1950s, sodium carbonate–bicarbonate (alkaline) heap leaching of low-grade Ca-carbonate-rich uranium ores has recently gained popularity. This study presents the results of two column tests on a calcrete-type uranium–vanadium (carnotite) ore using a mixture of sodium carbonate and bicarbonate (Na2CO3/NaHCO3) as the leach solution. This data was kindly supplied by Toro Energy Ltd. The experimental data comprised physical–chemical leach information and two different irrigation rates (10 and 20 L/h·m2). The experimental data indicated that the carnotite ore with high calcium carbonate (CaCO3) can be leached effectively using the alkaline leach solution. The increase in the irrigation rate increased the uranium and vanadium extraction and decreased their concentration in the effluent. The column leach data was therefore fitted to a simplified first-order kinetic model using two approaches, a general form and a second based on the reagent consumption per unit mass of the initial valuable species (U and V). As reagent consumption is a key economic factor in the heap leaching process, having a kinetic leaching model incorporating reagent consumption would provide useful techno-economic information. In this regards a new leaching index of (β) is also introduced. Both approaches of the first order kinetic model provide a good agreement with the column testing data.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from the publisher via the DOI in this record.
Vol 161, pp.127–137