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Laterite nickel beneficiation process

192 21.Feb.2023 KZ Editor

As a ferromagnetic metal with high corrosion resistance, plasticity and magnetism, nickel is widely used in nickel-based alloys, stainless steel, fuel cells, lithium-ion batteries and other fields.

The application of nickel in lithium-ion batteries and its unparalleled advantages have made the country and industry aware of the importance of nickel to energy transformation. Therefore, it is more and more urgent to increase the layout of nickel resources and increase the added value.

Most of the nickel mined comes from two types of deposits

Weathered nickel oxide deposits (laterite nickel deposits), in which the main ore minerals are nickel-bearing limonite [(Fe,Ni)O(OH)] and silicomangite (hydrated nickel silicate), and the main ore minerals are nickel-chromite[ (Ni,Fe)9S8] magmatic sulfide deposits.

With the gradual depletion of high-grade and easy-to-mine nickel sulfide ores, lateritic nickel ores have gradually become the focus of the nickel industry due to the following advantages.

Laterite nickel ore resources are abundant, accounting for about 70% of the world's continental nickel resources, and the exploration cost is low.

Laterite nickel ore is usually mined by open pit mining. This means that mining costs are low.

The processing method of laterite nickel ore has gradually matured.

Sintered nickel oxide, ferronickel or ordinary nickel for stainless steel production is mainly produced from nickel oxide ore.

Laterite nickel resources are mainly distributed in areas near the equator, most of which are close to coastal areas and have convenient transportation.

How to extract laterite nickel ore?

The processing methods of laterite nickel ore are mainly divided into fire method and wet method. According to nickel and cobalt content, ore types, and different working conditions, it can be divided into rotary kiln drying pre-reduction-electric furnace reduction smelting method, sintering blast furnace vulcanization smelting method, sintering-blast furnace reduction smelting method, rotary kiln direct reduction method For the production of ferronickel powder, the wet methods mainly include atmospheric pressure acid leaching and pressurized acid leaching. The pyrometallurgy consumes a lot of energy and requires a large investment. The future development direction is mainly based on hydrometallurgy.

Hydrometallurgy can efficiently recover valuable metals such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. And it has the advantage of low energy consumption. The hydrometallurgical extraction of laterite nickel ore includes: reduction roasting-atmospheric pressure ammonia leaching process, high pressure acid leaching process and atmospheric pressure acid leaching process.

1. Reduction roasting-atmospheric pressure ammonia leaching process

The reduction roasting-atmospheric ammonia leaching process was first invented by Professor Caron, so it is also called the Caron method. The ammonia leaching process is to reduce nickel to metallic nickel by reduction roasting, and reduce most of iron to iron oxide (a small amount of iron oxide is reduced to metallic iron), then leaching metallic nickel with ammonia water, and distilling the ammonia leaching solution with a distillation tower. , forming a basic nickel carbonate slurry, which is sent to a calciner for drying and calcining. NiO is obtained by calcination and can be sold directly as a product or further reduced to metallic nickel. If you want to know more about the atmospheric pressure ammonia leaching process, you can go through the following website

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2. Pressure acid leaching process

The pressure acid leaching method is to use dilute sulfuric acid in an autoclave (240~265°C, 4-5MP) to leach laterite nickel ore, so that Ni, Co and H2SO4 react to form soluble hydrogen sulfate and enter the solution, while iron remains. Medium slag. After the leached pulp is countercurrently washed by the washing thickener, hydrogen sulfide is introduced to precipitate the nickel-cobalt sulfide, and finally the nickel-cobalt sulfide is refined.

3. Atmospheric pressure acid leaching process

The general process of treating laterite nickel ore by atmospheric pressure acid leaching is as follows: use a ball mill to grind laterite nickel ore to a certain fineness, and use a stirring tank to mix the ore slurry. The pulp, sulfuric acid and washing liquid react in a certain proportion under heating conditions. After the leached nickel is dissolved in solution, it is neutralized with calcium carbonate and filtered. The obtained leaching solution is subjected to nickel precipitation with a precipitating agent.

Crush the ore to <20mm, using N603 as the binder. 3809/L H2s04 cold solution as a wetting agent for pelleting and 4-stage in-line column impregnation. The nickel leaching rate can reach more than 85%. The atmospheric pressure leaching method has the advantages of simple process, low energy consumption and low investment cost, but it is difficult to separate the leachate, and the nickel content in the leach residue is still high.

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