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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Biooxidation of a zinc sulphide ore Lehmann, Matthew Karl Wilhelm


An experimental program was conducted on a zinc-sulphide ore containing 15% zinc in support of the development of the Teck Cominco HydroZinc™ process. The two primary types of experiments that were conducted were bacterially assisted short column experiments, and controlled potential, isothermal, chemical leaching experiments. This program was carried out in order to determine the kinetics of heap biooxidation of this zinc ore at controlled temperatures, and to determine the rates of heat generation under those conditions. In addition, the ores' topology, activation energy, and dependence on ferric and ferrous ions were determined. Once the primary objective of generating consistent, meaningful data was achieved, a concerted effort was made to fit the results with an existing mathematical model. This exercise was met with mixed results and it was concluded that the mathematical model, in its current stage of development, is insufficient to accurately describe the leaching of this ore. It was concluded from both the experimental data and the mathematical fits that the rate of bacterial leaching of this zinc ore is limited by transport of oxygen into solution. Results of the potentiostatic experiments indicate that the ore follows a variable order model, has an activation energy of 58.23 kJ mol ⁻¹, a reaction order of 2.30, and a dependency on ferric ions of O.342.

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