Jaime Calvo, Ana Belen Mejías, Emilio Pecharroman, Carlos Álvarez Carreño
Environment conditions for zinc refineries are growingly difficult due to different circumstances,
being global over-capacity and slower demand growth, increasingly complex raw materials and
sustainability requirements the most relevant. These are having a direct impact on the business
model of traditional zinc refineries causing many to become un-feasible.
Tecnicas Reunidas is a technology developer and licensor in the field of base metals with more than
45 years of experience. TR has a wide experience with alternative raw materials and development
of environment-friendly technologies.
This paper shows the last technical developments, some already commercialized, some still at development
stage, performed by TR to reply to different zinc refinery’s needs. These developments
are linked to ZINCEXTM Solvent Extraction technology implemented in 7 industrial plants since
1976 and which, to date, has enabled the production of zinc from complex raw materials (oxidic
ores and Waelz oxides) at very low cost.
The technological developments have been performed looking for increasing refineries feasibility in
at least one of the following three areas of improvement: Capacity utilization, Adding value and
The developments described in this paper are:
Design of an industrial zinc refinery based on Roasting-Leaching-Solvent Extraction-Electrowinning,
especially suitable for zinc concentrates with high content of impurities like manganese
Industrial implementation of ECOLEADTM technology for the recovery of lead and silver from a
zinc refinery fed exclusively with secondary raw materials (Waelz oxides)
Significant investment cost reduction at same operating cost with the new generation of the
Recovery of rare earths and critical metals from ZINCEXTM refinery streams.
Adaptation of the ZINCEXTM Technology to small sized plants, especially suitable for metals recycling
facilities and recovery from waste streams.