Refining of High-Nickel Concentrates

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 70, No. 783, 1977

P. Fossi, L. Gandon, C. Bozec and J. M. Demarthe, MINEMET RECHERCHE, Centre de Recherche de Trappes, France

This report describes a pilot-scale study of a hydro-metallurgical process to treat high-grade nickel matte or a nickel-cobalt sulphide precipitate to produce high-purity electrolytic nickel. The first step of the process is the oxidative leaching of the nickel-bearing material by nitric acid; the nitrous gases generated during leaching are reconverted to nitric acid. The crude nickel sulphate-nitrate solution is purified and is then subjected to a denitrification step. Nitrate separation is effected either by the crystallization of nickel sulphate or by precipitation of basic nickel carbonate. The electrolyte is prepared from the nitrate-free material and nickel is then recovered by electrolysis of the sulphate solution using insoluble anodes. Some technical and economic problems encountered with this processing route are discussed and the method is compared to the "allchloride" process developed by Societe Le Nickel.
Keywords: Hydrometallurgy, Electrowinning, Nickel sulphates, Nickel carbonates.