Recovery of Silver and Gold from Copper Anode Slimes

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© 2014, The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society. Copper anode slimes, produced from copper electrolytic refining, are important industrial by-products containing several valuable metals, particularly silver and gold. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the development of the extraction processes for recovering silver and gold from conventional copper anode slimes. Existing processes, namely pyrometallurgical processes, hydrometallurgical processes, and hybrid processes involving the combination of pyrometallurgical and hydrometallurgical technologies, are discussed based in part on a review of the form and characteristics of silver and gold in copper anode slimes. The recovery of silver and gold in pyrometallurgical processes is influenced in part by the slag and matte/metal chemistry and related characteristics, whereas the extraction of these metals in hydrometallurgical processes depends on the leaching reagents used to break the structure of the silver- and gold-bearing phases, such as selenides. By taking advantage of both pyrometallurgical and hydrometallurgical techniques, high extraction yields of silver and gold can be obtained using such combined approaches that appear promising for efficient extraction of silver and gold from copper anode slimes.

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