R&D Project Summary
Currently the processing of nickel laterite ore by high pressure acid leaching requires the addition of acid and external heat while the processing of nickel sulfide concentrates results in the generation (evolution) of excess heat and under many circumstances the generation of acids.
St-Georges’ metallurgical R&D team is working on a potentially breakthrough technology that would enable the combined hydro metallurgical treatment of laterites and sulfides ore at reduces temperatures and close circuit recycling of some of the heat generated. Most of the acid is also recuperated as a processing agent. The process evolves at ~250oC – using oxygen addition.
The combined treatment of laterite ores and sulfide concentrate in a single reactor – an off-the-shelf autoclave with minor adjustments -presents an opportunity to:
- lower the costs for treating both materials, increase producers bottom line
- simplify the extraction process and its maintenance costs
- drastically reduce the environmental footprint of dual mineralogy processing operations
The co-treatment of laterites and concentrates has been undertaken in the past, usually by adding small amounts of sulfide concentrates into an existing HPAL facility that is treating laterites. This has met with limited success due to limitation imposed by the design of the autoclave.
Starting from a clean slate, the first few steps in our R&D initiative is to improve on the chemistry of this proposal. Strategic Metallurgy, our 30% JV partner in this effort, already has a sum of knowledge derived from past attempts at solving this processing quagmire. The second step of this initiative will be to fine tune the design of a new piece of equipment in which to execute this new process.
Outputs: Chemical application Patents and Equipment Design Patents.
Timeline and Budget
This development initiative is of a lower priority than the R&D effort put into the “Acid Drainage R&D Initiative”. Depending on financial resources availability, the outputs of this efforts should be seen over the next few years. Total estimated budget at this time is $1,200,000.