Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 31168
Leaching Behaviour of a Low-grade South African Nickel Laterite

Authors: Catherine K. Thubakgale, Richard K.K. Mbaya, Kaby Kabongo


The morphology, mineralogical and chemical composition of a low-grade nickel ore from Mpumalanga, South Africa, were studied by scanning electron microscope (SEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF), respectively. The ore was subjected to atmospheric agitation leaching using sulphuric acid to investigate the effects of acid concentration, leaching temperature, leaching time and particle size on extraction of nickel and cobalt. Analyses results indicated the ore to be a saprolitic nickel laterite belonging to the serpentine group of minerals. Sulphuric acid was found to be able to extract nickel from the ore. Increased acid concentration and temperature only produced low amounts of nickel but improved cobalt extraction. As high as 77.44% Ni was achieved when leaching a -106+75μm fraction with 4.0M acid concentration at 25oC. The kinetics of nickel leaching from the saprolitic ore were studied and the activation energy was determined to be 18.16kJ/mol. This indicated that nickel leaching reaction was diffusion controlled.

Keywords: Nickel, laterite, sulphuric acid, Atmospheric leaching

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

Procedia APA BibTeX Chicago EndNote Harvard JSON MLA RIS XML ISO 690 PDF Downloads 2909


[1] W. Luo, Q. Feng, G. Zhang and Y. Chen. Kinetics of saprolitic laterite leaching by sulphuric acid at atmospheric pressure. Minerals Engineering vol. 23, pp 458 - 462. 2010.
[2] A. D. Dalvi, W. G. Bacon and R. C. Osborne. "The past and future of nickel laterites," PDAC 2004 International Convention, Trade Show & Investors Exchange, pp 1 -27. 2004
[3] K. Liu, Q. Chen, H. Hu, and Z. Yin. Characterization and leaching behaviour of lizardite in Yuanjiang laterite ore," Applied Clay Science, vol. 47, pp 311 - 316. 2010.
[4] J. P. Golightly and O. N. Arancibia. "The chemical composition and infrared spectrum of nickel- and iron-substituted serpentine from a nickeliferous laterite profile," Can. Mineral, vol. 17, no. 4, pp719-728. 1979
[5] R. A. Oderinde, and E. O. Olanipekun. "Kinetics of hydrochloric acid leaching of laterite," Pak. J. Sci. Ind. Res, vol. 35, pp 77 - 80. 1992.
[6] S. Teir, H. Revitzer, S. Eloneva, C. J. Fogelholm, and R. Zevenhoven, Dissolution of natural serpentinite in mineral and organic acids. International Journal of Mineral Processing, vol 83, 36-46. 2007.
[7] A. E. Yüce, G. Bulut, F. Boylu and G. Önal. "Process flowsheet development for beneficiation of nickel ore," Mineral Processing & Extractive Metallurgy Review, vol. 29, pp 57-67. 2008.
[8] D. Georgiou and V. G. Papangelakis. "Sulphuric acid pressure leaching of a limonitic laterite: chemistry and kinetics," Hydrometallurgy, vol. 49, pp 23-46. 1998.
[9] W. Luo, Q. Feng, L. Ou, G. Zhang, and Y. Lu. "Fast dissolution of nickel from a lizardite-rich saprolitic laterite by sulphuric acid at atmospheric pressure," Hydrometallurgy, vol. 96, pp 171 - 175. 2009.
[10] N. Panagiotopoulos and A. Kontopoulos. "Atmospheric Pressure Sulfuric Acid Leaching of Low-Grade Hematitic Laterites," The Metallurgical Society, pp 447- 459. 1988.
[11] S. Chander. "Atmosphere pressure leaching of nickeliferous laterites in acidic media," Transactions of the Indian Institute of Metals, vol. 35, pp 366-371. 1982.
[12] D. Neudorf. "Atmospheric Leaching Forum, ALTA 2007 Nickel/Cobalt 12," ALTA Metallurgical Services. 2007.
[13] M. T. Anthony and D. S. Flett. "Nickel processing technology: a review, Minerals Industry International, pp 26-42. 1997.
[14] J . H. Canterford. The sulphation of oxidized nickel ores. International Laterite Symposium, Society of Mining Engineers. American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers Incorporated, pp 636- 677. 1979.
[15] A. L. Auzende, I. Daniel, B. Reynard, C. Lemaire and F. Guyot. "Highpressure behaviour of serpentine minerals: a Raman spectroscopic study," Physics and Chemistry of Minerals vol. 31, pp 269-277. 2004.
[16] R. Hirasawa, and H. Horita. "Dissolution of nickel magnesiumfrom garnierite ore in an acid solution," International Journal of Mineral Processing, vol. 19, pp 273 - 284. 1987.
[17] G. Li, M. Rao, T. Jiang, Q. Huang and Z. Peng. "Leaching of limonitic laterite ore by acidic thiosulfate solution," Minerals Engineering. 2011.
[18] F. Habashi. In: Principles of Extractive Metallurgy Vol. 1 Gordon & Breach vol. 1, pp 11-64. 1979.
[19] H. Sohn and M. E. Wadsworth. "In: Rate Process of Extractive Metallurgy," Plenum, New York, pp 141-143. 1979.
[20] I. Girgin, A. Obut and A. Üçyildiz. "Dissolution behaviour of a Turkish lateritic nickel ore," Minerals Engineering vol. 24, pp 603 -609. 2011.