Process Engineered for Profit AND Proper Environment Rehabilitation
Our technology, the N5X, is a hydrometallurgical process engineered for the recovery of nickel, cobalt, scandium and other valuable metals derived from most of the laterite ore types, such as limonite, saprolite and bedrock. It employs THREE (3) essential steps to achieve the two main objectives of optimum financial performance and environmental stewardship.
A mild acidic solution is used to dissolve the nickel and cobalt in the laterite. This is performed in vats or cells that hold the laterite ores. Other metals such as aluminium, scandium, manganese and magnesium may also be recovered through module addition to the main process stream. Our process can accept a variety of laterite ore types (limonite, transition, saprolite and bedrock) and a wider range of grades of Ni, Fe, Mg and Si compared to other technologies which could only process one laterite type.
The solution from the LEACH is then processed to recover the metal values. A myriad product types can be produced but initially a mixed hydroxide (MHP) containing 35-50% Nickel and 1-3% Cobalt. Other products such as Scandium, Aluminium, Manganese and Magnesium can be recovered as well by simply adding process modules specific for these products.
The process is very flexible and can supply both the electric vehicle sector (cathode raw materials) and the stainless steel sector.
Solid residues after the LEACH and RECOVERY steps are then treated with neutralising agents and are returned to the mined-out open pit. These solid residues are inert and will not cause adverse effects to the environment as determined through internationally - recognised toxicity test methods (TCLP). In fact, plants can grow on these residues as demonstrated in laboratory tests. Squash, chili, tomatoes to name a few were all successfully grown using leached, barren ore without using any fertiliser.
N5X PROCESS FEATURES
> LOW COST
Low capital cost – typically less than US$ 5,000 per annual tonne of nickel produced
Low operating cost - typically US$ 6 500 per tonne nickel metal produced or better.
> RAPID IMPLEMENTATION
Rapid Deployment – Construction time for a base technology system is typically less than 6 months.
Rapid Commissioning – Project ramp up and commissioning to name plate capacity is less than 3 months.
High Factor of Safety – A high degree of mechanisation, few moving parts and low labour compliment results in a system with few health and safety risks.
> EXCELLENT ENVIRONMENT STEWARDSHIP
Low Carbon Footprint – The low energy consumption and use of reagents and materials results in a system with a very low carbon footprint.
Zero Environmental Discharge – Processed ore is placed back in the areas from where it was originally mined. The process creates no excess solution discharge.
Sustainable Development Legacy – The processed ore is returned to the mining areas as a soil of greater fertility than that of typical laterite soils and is suitable for agriculture.
> INDUSTRY FLEXIBILITY
Versatile Products – although a mixed hydroxide product will initially be produced, the process may be modified to produce carbonate, oxide, sulphate and sulphide products or even metals.
Versatile Markets – while the products are primarily focussed at the battery and related market, mixed hydroxide is also purchased by the ferro-alloys industry.
> EFFICIENT USE OF RESOURCES
Optimum Resource Utilisation – The EML process is capable of processing the majority of lateritic nickel types unlike other processes, thus maximising the value of resources.
Optimum Metals Utilisation – Cobalt, scandium and aluminium are essentially “lost” in the ferro-nickel process, they are easily recovered as additional value add products in a leach process.
Multi-Ore Application – The EML process may be applied to other ores, such as lithium, copper and gold.