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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Hydrothermal treatment of nickeliferous laterite with ferric chloride solutions Munroe, Norman Donald Hollingsworth


The extraction of nickel and cobalt, from nickeliferous laterite, together with the hydrothermal precipitation of hematite has been investigated. In order to emphasize the relevance and significance of this process, an appraisal is made of the state of the nickel, cobalt and iron industries. A compilation of the annual production of the respective ores on the world market is included with an examination of the future uses and demand of nickel and cobalt. Solubility relationships for iron (III) compounds in aqueous solution are reviewed in terms of pH, solution composition and temperature. The thermodynamic data used at elevated temperatures between 60°C (333°K) and 200°C (473°K) have been estimated by using the "Entropy correspondence principle" method of Criss and Coble. A sample calculation is shown in Appendix A. The effects of (a) temperature; (b) ferric chloride concentration, (c) hydrochloric acid concentration and (d) pulp density were studied in order to evaluate extraction conditions. Generally, metal extraction increased with temperature and ferric chloride concentration. At 423°K, over 90 percent of the nickel was extracted with a ferric chloride concentration greater than 1M. Since appreciable amounts of gangue dissolved under most conditions, thereby consuming acid, a discussion on the recovery of hydrochloric acid is presented. Filtration of the precipitated hematite has proved difficult, because of the very fine nature of the particles. An overview of the nucleation and growth of particles in supersaturated solutions has therefore been included. This phenomenon is used to describe the phase changes which occurred during leaching experiments, and to propose an approach by which coarser particles might be achieved.

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