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MEI Online: Hydrometallurgy: Latest News: October 10th 2003

:: Jaguar Moves Forward  

Canadian junior Jaguar Nickel Inc. (formerly Chesbar Resources Inc.) has moved forward with its hydrometallurgical process for the extraction of nickel and other metals from sulphides and laterite ores, particularly those of its Sechol nickel laterite project in Guatemala. As is the case with Inco's process, the Jaguar process is also based on chloride leaching, although, unlike the Inco technology, it does not require a pressure-leach stage and produces metal hydroxides rather than metal. According to Jaguar's chief technical officer, Dr Bryn Harris, the main difference between the Jaguar and Inco processes is that the chloride solutions used in Inco's method is around 10% of the strength of that contemplated by Jaguar.

The company has recently completed laboratory tests that demonstrate that the process can extract metals from sulphides. According to Dr Harris, the technique for extracting metals from sulphides differs from that for laterites, in that chlorine rather than high-chloride maguesium chloride hines are used to oxidise the sulphides.

In the conceptual flowsheet for the Sechol project, the latente ores would be beneficiated and the resulting concentrate leached using a solution of hydrochloric acid and maguesium chloride at 80-1050C. Following solid/liquid separation on a vacuum-belt filter, the liquor would be purified using chlorine gas and neutralised using maguesia. (The solids could then undergo maguetic separation to produce from the tailings a material containing approximately 50% Fe, 1-2% Ni, and 4-5% Mg if a market exists. This could be suitable as feed for a ferronickel plant or possibly for low-alloy steel production.)

The cobalt and nickel would then be precipitated from the purified liquor using more maguesia, to produce a mixed hydroxide productwhich, after filtration and washing, would be sold to nickel refineries. The remaining liquor would be subjected to pyrohydrolysis to produce both maguesia for neutralisation (if required, the amounts of maguesium leached from the laterites could be increased to allow the production of maguesia in saleable quantities) and hydrochloric acid to be recycled back into the circuit.

Jaguar has completed a scoping study for the project which envisages a 20,000 t/y operation with a total capital cost of US$250 million and an operating cost of US$1.06/lb of nickel (the operating cost excludes any by-product credits from cobalt ferronickel or maguesia). Jaguar plans to start pilot-scale testing of the process before the end of this year, and to generate mixed nickel-cobalt hydroxide product for end-user evaluation with a view to entering into off-take agreements.



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