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Comment Processing & Handling

Improving extraction yields of Ni and Co from laterite

By Paul Grad |

Low-grade nickel (less than 1.5 wt.%) laterite ores represent about 70% of global reserves but account for only 40% of nickel production. Increasing demand for nickel in recent years has created the need to process such ores. Atmospheric acid leaching of these ores presents difficulties due to the presence of high-acid-consuming serpentinized and clay minerals, leading to pulp gelation and poor mixing, and low metal recovery. Now a team from the Ian Wark Research Institute, University of South Australia (Adelaide: www.unisa.edu.au), led by professor Jonas Addai-Mensah, has shown how to increase Ni and Co recoveries from these ores. The team studied the influence of time and temperature on atmospheric acid-leaching behavior of saprolitic nickel laterite ores. It carried out isothermal (at 70°C and 95°C), batch, sulfuric acid leaching studies on 40 wt.% solid dispersions of 2-mm saprolitic nickel laterite ore for 4 h at pH=1. There was a sharp decrease in particle size within the first 5 min. of shearing in both water and sulfuric acid. This was accompanied by an increase in the amount of finer particles in the pulps. Further increase in time led to a gradual decrease in size for the particles sheared in water with a marginal…
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