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Characterization and dissolution of low-grade ferruginous nickel lateritic ore by sulfuric acid

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2014, Vol. 31, No. 1, pp. 57-65

Panda, L.; Rao, D.S.; Mishra, B.K.; Das, B.


The dissolution behavior of lateritic nickel ore containing 1.2% Ni, 40.6% Fe, 9.5% SiO2 and 9.59% MgO by sulfuric acid was investigated. The ore was characterized adequately by different techniques such as chemical analysis, scanning electron microscope (SEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD), field emission scanning electron microscope (FESEM), thermal analysis and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopic measurements. The characterization results did not reveal any distinct mineral phase for nickel; it was associated with mineral phases like goethite, hematite, chromite and serpentine in various proportions. The beneficiation studies by hydrocyclone, magnetic separation and flotation did not enrich the nickel value. Reduction roasting followed by magnetic separation indicated only 2%Ni with 28.9% yield. Consequently, the recovery of nickel values from the lateritic ore by acid leaching under different conditions was studied. The kinetics of leaching obey the first order rate equations. The recovery of nickel was found to be influenced by temperature. It was observed that at an acid concentration of 2M, leaching temperature 363 K, time 240 min and solid-to-liquid ratio of 1:10, it is possible to leach out more than 95% Ni.