2018 Volume 59 Issue 9 Pages 1458-1464
Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Ltd. (SMM) has gradually increased the mixed sulfide (MS: mixture of nickel and cobalt sulfides) production from nickel laterite ore as raw material for the SMM’s unique Matte Chlorine Leach and Electro-winning (MCLE) process over the past decade. This process has significant cost advantages because it is capable of selectively and effectively leaching nickel from MS; however, chlorine leaching requires expensive corrosion-resistant facilities. A new process that could be operated using lower-cost facilities has therefore been desired. To meet its development needs, this study evaluated a process for nickel-selective leaching from MS, which is similar to the existing process for refining of ZnS. The process uses sulfuric acid, which does not require high-cost facilities.
However, selective nickel leaching from MS, which was the process development goal, could not be achieved. This result is quite different from the case of selective Zn leaching from ZnS.
The mechanism of nickel leaching from MS using sulfuric acid was identified. It was shown that nickel-selective leaching using sulfuric acid is difficult because of the formation of elemental sulfur and NiS2 precipitates on the MS surface that interfere with the leaching reaction.
This Paper was Originally Published in Japanese in J. Japan Inst. Met. Mater. 81 (2017) 320–326.