Awaruite, a New Large Nickel Resource: Flotation under Weakly Acidic Conditions Seiler, Santiago; Sánchez, Gustavo; Pawlik, Marek; Bradshaw, Peter; Klein, Bern
To support the transformation to clean low carbon technologies, there is a demand for critical metals such as nickel. Awaruite is a less common nickel-bearing mineral with unique properties and responses to mineral separation. This paper presents the findings of a flotation study to recover awaruite from the Baptiste ultramafic deposit, located in central British Columbia, Canada. Nickel recoveries of up to 65% at the rougher stage were obtained with xanthate as a collector at a pH level of 4.5. Awaruite flotation was shown to be highly dependent on the slurry pH. At weakly acidic conditions, the awaruite surface is activated through the dissolution of the passivation layer formed during grinding in alkaline conditions. Desliming was shown to reduce the acid consumption required to maintain the pH, probably by removing the highly reactive serpentine slimes generated during grinding. Rougher, followed by cleaner stages of flotation, showed that a high-grade concentrate can be produced with up to 45% nickel, 1.3% cobalt, 0.7% copper and negligible concentrations of penalty elements, such as arsenic, lead, and selenium, among others. A nickel flotation concentrate from an awaruite deposit is a promising feedstock for not only stainless-steel production but also for clean energy technologies.
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