SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – London, U.K.-based RIO TINTO is spending US$270 million for a new molybdenum autoclave process (MAP) facility at its Kennecott Utah Copper Bingham Canyon mine near here. The new process will treat lower-grade concentrates not suitable for conventional roasting, improve moly recovery, enhance operating flexibility, and produce chemical-grade molybdenum products, says the company.
The MAP design includes a number of energy conservation features and an environmentally responsible technique for producing molybdenum products. A steam recovery system will be included to capture excess steam from the autoclave for use in downstream processes. This recycle system will supply about 40% of the plant’s thermal requirements.
MAP will make it possible for Rio Tinto to recover rhenium from its concentrate. The average rhenium spot price in the last three months was US$4,300 per pound. In the first phase of the project, production is expected to ramp up to a maximum of 9,000 lb per year.
The MAP plant is targeted to start up in Q3 2010, and an expansion is contemplated for 2014.
Read the 2007 Rio Tinto annual report at www.RioTinto.com.