The Hydrometallurgy Division (HMD) is a dynamic group within Mintek consisting of 43 professionals and technical staff. The division develops and tests hydrometallurgical flow sheets for the recovery and refining of metals from ores and concentrates. The principal areas of expertise are leaching, precipitation, cementation, ion-exchange, solvent extraction, electro-winning, and process simulations.

Uranium Group

Mintek was one of the pioneering organisations during the heyday of uranium process development. Its involvement covered different aspects of uranium recovery, and a legacy of valuable information is still available at Mintek today. Mintek is also authorised by the National Nuclear Regulator and the Department of Minerals and Energy to possess and process radioactive/nuclear samples, and is ISO 9000 and 14001 certified.

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Leaching and Precipitation
Mintek’s ongoing activities in leaching of uranium ores have ensured that we have the infrastructure and a team of experts that can apply and optimise various leach technologies to recover uranium from low, medium, and high grade ores, and problematic ores. Bench-scale and pilot scale facilities for sulphuric acid, alkaline and pressure leaching are available. Various oxidants can be evaluated to fit the client’s specific requirements. Bench and pilot scale precipitation of UO4 or ADU/SDU can be done on the relevant SX or IX streams to determine the purity of the product. Intermediate precipitation of uranium, re-dissolution, and precipitation to purify the final uranium product can also be done.

Project work to develop flowsheets, and to provide support for bankable feasibility studies included amongst others, Paladin’s Langer Heinrich and Kayelekera projects, and SXR Uranium One’s Dominion Reefs (now owned by Shiva Uranium) project, Harmony project. Thus, Mintek is well qualified to handle projects covering all test work for a uranium prospect, including mineralogy, assaying, mineral processing, leaching and upgrading of uranium (IX, SX), and recovery of the final refined uranium product.

The laboratory and bulk equipment includes:

  • Lab-scale leaching facilities
  • Batch autoclaves (Ti-lined) and a continuous autoclave pilot facility
  • Batch bulk scale leaching facilities
    • 100 litres to 5000 litres steam heated reactors with over head stirring
  • Ion Exchange (IX), solvent extraction (SX) and precipitation services are available in bench scale and pilot scale facilities