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ArticleName Possible processing of nickel-cobalt ores of the buruktal deposit at Southern Urals nickel plant
DOI 10.17580/tsm.2019.03.02
ArticleAuthor Sosnovskiy M. G., Gulyaev S. V., Zarkov A. V.

Southern Urals Nickel Plant, Orsk, Russia:

M. G. Sosnovskiy, Head of Mining Department
S. V. Gulyaev, Chief Engineer, e-mail:
A. V. Zarkov, General Director


The ore base of Southern Urals Nickel Plant includes Site No. 3 of the Buruktalsk deposit of oxidized nickel-cobalt ores. A compositional analysis identified two types of ore — ferrous-siliceous and magnesian ores. The commercial ores have the following average concentrations: 0.84% of nickel and 0.08% of cobalt. Cobalt is registered as an extractable metal and shall be extracted as part of normal operation. The application of known hydrometallurgical techniques for processing these ores did not prove viable. Because of the high concentration of cobalt in the Buruktalsk ore, the smelting process fails to produce a quality ferronickel. The following low-cost hydrometallurgical technology is proposed as a way to remove cobalt from the oxidized nickel ore and thus enhance the processing of the Buruktalsk ore: wet screening (classification) of mixed ore; selective agitation leaching of cobalt and manganese from fine material using a weak solution of sulfuric acid with a deoxidizer; washing and thickening of slime; heap leaching of nickel and cobalt from coarse ore using a solution resultant from the selective leaching of cobalt and manganese and fortified with sulfuric acid; the resultant products include a pregnant solution and dump slurry. Washed slime can be processed into quality ferronickel, iron balls, and nickel-containing iron. A laboratory study was conducted that included wet screening and agitation leaching of cobalt and manganese from the mixed ore from Site No. 3 of the Buruktalsk deposit. The paper indicates that it is possible to selectively leach cobalt and manganese from the ore, with the maximum selectivity coefficient obtained when the leaching duration is 1 hour. No heat was applied to the solutions during the experiments. Further pilot tests verified the results of the laboratory study. The proportional concentration of cobalt and nickel in the slime was 1:25.8, which ensures the production of quality ferronickel. The estimated recovery of metals as part of the ferronickel production process is as follows: 84.7% Ni (including 69.7% as ferronickel, 15% as Ni – Co concentrate); 59.3% Co; 76.3% Mn.

keywords Oxidized nickel ore, Buruktalsk deposit, hydrometallurgical processes, pyrometallurgical processes, leaching, nickel, cobalt, recovery, ferronickel

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