Mipac’s multi-stream Copper Concentration Monitor to optimise Atlantic Copper’s tankhouse operations

Towards the end of 2015, Atlantic Copper in Spain, a wholly owned company of Freeport-McMoran, placed an order for a multi-stream Mipac Copper Concentration Monitor for their electro-refining tankhouse operations.


Registered in Huelva and located on the banks of the Odiel River, the Atlantic Copper metallurgical complex processes more than a million tons of ore to produce close to 300,000 metric tons of refined copper annually. The refinery houses approximately 1,204 electro-refining cells to produce 99.99% pure copper cathodes.

Mipac’s Mineral Concentration Monitor offers an easy to deploy continuous, in-line solution for detecting the concentration of dissolved minerals in the electrolyte and can be used for Copper, Nickel, & Zinc refining processes. There are 20+ installations of the MCM worldwide (Australia, India, Cyprus, Kazakhstan, Botswana and the USA).

The device operates on a colorimetric principle where the electrolyte flows through a glass flow cell, and the optical cell determines the dissolved mineral content, on-line, to generate a 4-20mA signal. The unit also comes with a mounted LCD display panel for local monitoring and control as well as inputs from the plant control system for remote operation and calibration.

“In this difficult economic climate, the Mipac Copper Concentration Monitor will enable us to continuously analyse copper in our electrolyte and take measures and recover as much as possible within safe limits. Offline sample testing is not as effective,” Ruben Carrera, Engineering Manager, Atlantic Copper.

“Based on their (Atlantic Copper) requirement, we had to design a multi-stream Copper Concentration Monitor capable of accepting four electrolyte input streams from their electrolyte purification cell sections. This design helps minimise the cost of deploying the solution and at the same time, provides them access to real-time copper concentration values from four streams to take appropriate actions; a particular aspect being monitoring low copper levels to avoid release of the highly toxic Arsine gas,” Tony Mathison, Mipac’s Product & Services Manager, comments.

The standard Mineral Concentration Monitor accepts a single electrolyte stream. Mipac’s redesigned version (max. four electrolyte streams) analyses each electrolyte stream for a set period. The operators use this information to control the electrolyte flow rate through the electrolyte purification plant to maximise the copper recovery from the spent electrolyte. The modified Mineral Concentration Monitor design is CE certified per European regulations.

“The mineral concentration monitor significantly reduces the lag in the traditional method of analysing samples in a laboratory by offering real-time mineral concentrations with good accuracy (±2% of range) as well as its interface to a plant control system and historian allows plant metallurgists and operators to effectively monitor, control, maintain safety and improve  their electrorefining or electrowinning process,” Tony says.

Mipac recently supplied three standard Copper Concentration Monitors for Kamoto Copper Company (owned by Katanga Mining) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The units have been despatched to site and are now awaiting to be commissioned.

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