Nickel Metal from Sulphide Concentrates Without Smelters - A Yakabindie Process and Project Up-date

Johnson G D,
Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 3
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1996
Confidence in Yakabindie becoming a truly cost competitive nickel project has risen recently because of: ò the emergence of an economically effective contract mining climate; ò the delivery of cheaper energy via the Goldfields Gas Pipeline; and ò the development of the Yakabindie Process for production of nickel cathode and cobalt by-product directly from sulphide concentrates at site, dramatically cutting capital and operating costs compared to the conventional route. Development of the Yakabindie Process was a result of 'necessity being the mother of invention'. Yakabindie can now break out of the trap of relying on existing downstream processors to treat an intermediate, and instead the project can gain direct market access. The very attractive cost advantages demonstrate that hydrometallurgical processing of sulphide concentrates is a worthy prize. Improved cobalt recoveries, and tolerance of higher levels of magnesium and arsenic than allowable by smelters, are further advantages of this approach. Leach residues are combined with much larger quantities of naturally alkaline flotation tailings and remain at site. As a result the process is more environmentally sensitive than the conventional smelt/refine route, with no sulphur dioxide gas emissions and 'metal only out the gate'.
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