CHILE – ATACAMA MINERALS, headquartered in Vancouver, has started up the new mechanical agitated leach plant at its Aguas Blancas iodine mine in Region II. The new plant replaces the former heap leaching facilities at the mine, and will allow annual production to rise 50% to 1,500 tonnes of iodine.
Operation of a pilot plan identified several advantages of a stirred leach over a heap leach. The new plant will boost iodine recovery to over 75%, compared with 55% for heap leaching. The processing time for leaching the ore in the new plant will be reduced from months to less than 24 hours, and the need to continuously build new leach pads will be reduced. Importantly, the water requirements for the new plant will be reduced by an estimated 25%. Atacama Minerals anticipates these advantages will result in long-term lower costs of production, reduced working capital requirements and an extended life of mine.
The new plant was completed at a cost of $26.5 million, an overrun of less than 4% – an excellent result in light of current industry conditions. A sediment containment pond is also under construction at an estimated cost of $4.4 million.
Learn more about the market outlook for iodine at www.Atacama.com.