Bacterial Preoxidation of Stillwater Complex, MT, Platinum-group Metal Flotation Concentrate and Recovery of Platinum-group Metals by Cyanidation and Other Leachants.
In research conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Mines, platinum-group metal (PGM) flotation concentrate from the Stillwater Complex, MT, was subjected to biooxidation using thiobacillus ferrooxidans in an effort to break down the sulfide minerals and liberate the associated PGM's for subsequent chemical leaching. Bacterial preleaching oxidized up to 94 pct of the sulfide present, destroyed the PGM-bearing pentlandite [(ni,fe)9s8] mineralization, and dissolved most of the nickel in the concentrate. Cyanidation at 80 deg c proved to be the most attractive chemical leachant, removing 34 pct of the platinum, 76 pct of the palladium, 94 pct of the rhodium, and 97 pct of the gold from the biooxidized concentrate. Research also indicated that increased sulfide oxidation during the preleach phase led to improved PGM recovery in the subsequent chemical leaching phase.