Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
SEKHUKHUNE, L.M.; NTULI, F. and MUZENDA, E.. Atmospheric oxidative and non-oxidative leaching of Ni-Cu matte by acidified ferric chloride solution. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2014, vol.114, n.5, pp. 401-409. ISSN 2411-9717.
The atmospheric leaching of copper-bearing matte by acidic ferric chloride solution was studied at the laboratory scale. The aim was to achieve maximum copper and nickel recovery by investigating the mechanisms of leaching, as well as identifying the effect of temperature, and concentration of ferric chloride and oxygen. Djurleite (Cu1.96S), hazelwoodite (Ni3S2), and Ni alloy were the primary phases detected in the matte. The quantitative composition of the matte was Cu 31%, Ni 50%, S 13%. Fe and Co constituted 2%, with platinum group metals (PGMs) accounting for 0.5%. A maximum nickel extraction of 98% was achieved using two-stage oxidative leaching at 90°C and 11 g/L Fe3+ as compared to 65% under non-oxidative conditions. A copper extraction of 99% was achieved in the first 45 minutes using two-stage non-oxidative leaching, and copper was recovered from solution by cementation. Three processes took place simultaneously throughout the leaching process, namely: dissolution, cementation/ metathesis, and oxidation. The leaching process was found to be diffusion-controlled.
Keywords : Ni-Cu matte; acid leaching; cementation; ferric chloride; leaching mechanism.