Proceedings of the 7th International Symposium on Hydrometallurgy 2014 vol:2 pages:755-767
7th International Symposium on Hydrometallurgy 2014 location:Victoria, Canada date:22-25 June 2014
In this work, we explore a novel mineral processing approach using carbon dioxide to promote mineral alterations that lead to improved extractability of nickel from olivine ((Mg,Fe)2SiO4). The precept is that by altering the morphology and the mineralogy of the ore via mineral carbonation, the comminution requirements and the acid consumption during hydrometallurgical processing can be reduced. Furthermore, carbonation pre-treatment can lead to mineral liberation and concentration of metals in physically separable phases. In a first processing step, olivine is fully carbonated at high CO2 partial pressures (35 bar) and optimal temperature (200 °C) with the addition of pH buffering agents. This leads to a powdery product containing high carbonate content. The main products of the carbonation reaction include amorphous colloidal silica, chromium-rich metallic particles, and iron-substituted magnesite ((Mg1-x,Fex)CO3). Carbonated olivine was subsequently leached using an array of inorganic and organic acids to test their leaching efficiency. Compared to leaching from untreated olivine, the percentage of nickel extracted from carbonated olivine by acid leaching was significantly increased. It is anticipated that the mineral carbonation pre-treatment approach may also be applicable to other ultrabasic and lateritic ores.