chemicals in processing nickel ore

chemicals in processing nickel ore

Processing of Nickel Laterite Ores on the Rise

Sulfides have long supplied the bulk of the global appetite for nickel. But dwindling resources combined with the need to mine at greater depths to obtain sulfide ores has many miners looking at nickel laterites. Additionally, nickel is expected to see growth in demand as developing economies spur a greater need for stainless steel. Similarly, demand is expected to grow as a result of nickels use in lithium ion batteries; nickel is used in the cathodes of lithium ion batteries and although this is not a new application , the lithium ion battery market is expected to see substantial growth as a result of the electric vehicle trend. On top of that, the amount of nickel used in such batteries has been increasing in an effort to improve performance. As such, the world is looking ahead at what can be done to maintain a reliable and economic nickel supply...

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While sulfide nickel ores are processed via upgrading to concentrates and then smelting, this approach is not applicable to laterite ores. A variety of approaches are available to process nickel laterite ores, with the most prevalent approaches explained below. The method chosen is dependent on the composition of the unique ore source. Most laterite ore deposits are made up of both limonite and saprolite layers, with the thickness of each layer varying significantly across different deposits. Limonite, which accounts for nearly double the amount of saprolite available globally, is more amenable to processing via hydometallurgical techniques, while saprolites are more amenable to processing via pyrometallurgy.¹

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As a critical component in stainless steel and lithium ion batteries, the waning nickel sulfide resources have many looking at nickeliferous laterite deposits as the future of the industry. Both hydrometallurgical and pyrometallurgical approaches are utilized to process nickel laterite ores, with the best approach depending on the ore composition. The Solvent Extraction Electrowinning process continues to grow in popularity. FEECO has been assisting the mining industry through feasibility testing, process design, custom equipment, and parts and service support since 1951. We offer the best in rotary dryers and coolers for processing nickel, as well as engineered material handling equipment, and even rotary kilns for nickel recovery. For more information on our nickel capabilities, contact us today! SOURCES: 1. Dalvi, Ashok D., Dr., W. Gordon Bacon, Dr., and Robert C. Osborne. The Past and the Future of Nickel Laterites. Tech. Web. July 2017.

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