Critical Aspects for Consideration in the Design of a Uranium Sx Circuit

Author(s): S. Poulter, N. Johns, R. Fraser, V. Brady
Alta 2013, Perth, 25 May 2013

Abstract

Solvent extraction is a well established processing route for producing uranium. Solvent extraction is a regular inclusion in designs of new uranium projects. Optimising the design of uranium solvent extraction plants results in significant capital cost savings, which can aid project viability. As such, it is important to understand the fundamental and critical aspects for consideration in the design of uranium SX circuits.

This paper highlights key decisions that need to be made for each uranium circuit and the basis for those decisions. A comprehensive test work campaign provides valuable information in the design of an SX circuit. It is important that a number of design considerations are included in the testwork program to ensure optimisation of the final testwork design. This additional information can be used to significantly reduce the number and size of mixer settlers reducing the capital cost of the plant and to minimise entrainment, significantly reducing operating costs.

Critical design aspects of a general SX circuit are discussed; particularly common problems with conventional mixer settler design and corresponding improvements to these designs. Finally the benefit of customised solvent extraction technology utilising CFD modelling is shown to illustrate how modelling the dispersion flow through the settler can identify improvements that enable high flux rates and even flow. This can be used in new settler design and to debottleneck existing operations to gain extra throughput with the same settler configuration.