The Yabulu Nickel Refinery Transition from Greenvale Ore to Imported Ore
Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Jan 1, 1994
In the period since 1989 the Yabulu Nickel Refinery of Queensland Nickel has undergone a transformation both in terms of the nickel laterite ore feed and the refined nickel product. These two changes were mutually supporting, as will be shown in the following paper. It had been realised since the early-1980s that the Greenvale orebody would be exhausted by 1992. Consequently planning had been in progress throughout the 1980s for the importation of overseas ore as a replacement for the Greenvale ore. The existence of extensive lateritic ore deposits in New Caledonia and Indonesia made these locations the natural focus of attention. With the three Japanese ferronickel smelters sourcing their nickel garnierite ore feed from these locations it was relatively easy for the miners to supply the overlying limonite ore to Yabulu. This limonite ore was previously discarded as waste. The Yabulu refinery now receives about 85 per cent of its ore from these two overseas sources. The transition from Greenvale ore to imported ore occurred gradually between 1989 and 1993. It was during the ore importation planning stage of the mid 1980s that Queensland Nickel commenced the technical investigation which led to the ammoniacal solvent extraction (ASX) plant installation and the product change from nickel oxide to nickel metal.