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nickel, olivine, mineral carbonation, leaching, ferro-magnesite, colloidal silica


In this work, we explore a novel mineral processing approach using carbon dioxide to promote mineral alterations that lead to improved extractability of nickel from olivine ((Mg,Fe)2SiO4). The precept is that by altering the morphology and the mineralogy of the ore via mineral carbonation, the comminution requirements and the acid consumption during hydrometallurgical processing can be reduced. Furthermore, carbonation pre-treatment can lead to mineral liberation and concentration of metals in physically separable phases. In a first processing step, olivine is fully carbonated at high CO2 partial pressures (35 bar) and optimal temperature (200 °C) with the addition of pH buffering agents. This leads to a powdery product containing high carbonate content. The main products of the carbonation reaction include quasi-amorphous colloidal silica, chromium-rich metallic particles, and ferro-magnesite ((Mg1−x,Fex)CO3). Carbonated olivine was subsequently leached using an array of inorganic and organic acids to test their leaching efficiency. Compared to leaching from untreated olivine, the percentage of nickel extracted from carbonated olivine by acid leaching was significantly increased. It is anticipated that the mineral carbonation pre-treatment approach may also be applicable to other ultrabasic and lateritic ores.


Faculty of Applied Science & Technology


School of Chemical and Environmental Sciences


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Peer Reviewed/Refereed Publication


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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Original Publication Citation

Santos, R. M., Van Audenaerde, A., Chiang, Y. W., Iacobescu, R. I., Knops, P., & Van Gerven, T. (2015). Nickel extraction from olivine: Effect of carbonation pre-treatment. Metals, 5(3), 1620-1644. doi:10.3390/met5031620