Atmospheric leaching of Ni, Co, Cu, and Zn from sulfide tailings using various oxidants

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A1 Alkuperäisartikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä
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Minerals Engineering, Volume 207
The growing demand for nickel and cobalt increases the interest in extracting metals from secondary sources, such as flotation tailings. A preferential strategy for the processing of the complex and/or low-grade secondary sources may be material integration into existing primary processes. In this research, a robust sulfuric acid leaching treatment was studied for metal extraction from sulfidic flotation tailings (Ni 0.45 %, Co 0.80 %, Cu 0.20 %, Zn 0.58 %). The impact of leaching parameters on metals extraction was studied; oxygen gas (1–2 L/min), ferric ions (0.05–0.3 M), and hydrogen peroxide (0.5–0.8 M), temperature (30–90 °C), sulfuric acid concentration (0.2–2 M), and solid–liquid ratio (50–100 g/L). It was found that after 30-minutes 20.0 % of nickel, 5.6 % of cobalt, and 33.0 % of the main impurity iron were extracted using oxygen as oxidant. Increasing temperature and sulfuric acid concentration were shown to have a positive effect on extraction. Also, with the further addition of ferric ions, cobalt extraction could be slightly increased (from 6.2 % to 8.3 %) whereas both nickel and cobalt could be increased with hydrogen peroxide (nickel 22.9 %, cobalt 14.2 %). However, the use of H2O2 can be challenging due to its high environmental footprint as well as partial decomposition by ferric ions, increasing H2O2 consumption further. The results suggest that the mineralogy of the investigated tailings limited feasible metals extraction using atmospheric conditions up to ≈ 20 % for nickel and ≈ 10 % for cobalt, with nickel distributing stronger into non-refractory minerals while cobalt reported more to pyrite. For other base metals, zinc extraction from sphalerite was shown to be efficient (up to ≈ 90 %) whereas copper extraction was limited (up to ≈ 30 %). In future, such atmospheric sulfuric acid leaching may provide a robust recovery route for non-refractory minerals present in the tailings, while full valorization of sulfide tailings matrix will require higher intensity processing with technologies such as pressure oxidation (POX), concentrated chloride leaching, bioleaching, roasting-leaching or very fine milling of the raw material prior to atmospheric leaching.
Funding Information: This study was supported by BATCircle2.0 project (grant number 44886/31/2020), financed by Business Finland . The authors have made use of Finland’s RawMatTERS Finland Infrastructure (RAMI) based in Aalto University and funded by the Academy of Finland . The authors are grateful to Boliden AB for providing the raw material. Authors would like to thank Pasi Heikkilä (GTK, Finland) for providing assistance related to material characterization. Publisher Copyright: © 2024 The Author(s)
Chemical dissolution, Ferric ions, Hydrogen peroxide, Oxidative dissolution, Pyrite, Pyrrhotite, Sulfuric acid
Other note
Karppinen, A, Seisko, S & Lundström, M 2024, ' Atmospheric leaching of Ni, Co, Cu, and Zn from sulfide tailings using various oxidants ', Minerals Engineering, vol. 207, 108576 .