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MEI Online: Hydrometallurgy: Latest News: April 5th 2004


:: Bateman and MinTek Form Ion Exchange Alliance  

Mintek and Bateman Luxembourg SA have entered into a co-operation and joint development agreement in the field of ion exchange for metallurgical applications.

The alliance combines Mintek's expertise in the research and development of ion exchange materials and processes with Bateman's specialised technology and experience in process and engineering design, construction and project management.

Under the agreement, the two companies will jointly develop, market, and implement ion exchange technologies. The package of services offered includes:

  • initial testwork to determine whether the separation is possible at the required recovery and purity
  • bench-scale testwork to evaluate feasibility and develop the initial design criteria
  • pilot plant testwork to optimise the process and confirm design criteria
  • economic evaluation and feasibility studies
  • project management, construction and commissioning, and, if required
  • build-own-operate and build-own-operate-and-transfer projects.

The technologies available include the 'traditional' fixed-bed and fluidised-bed (NIMCIX) processes, as well as the novel resin-in-pulp (RIP) or resin-in-leach (RIL) technology.

Ion exchange is a hydrometallurgical process for recovering, upgrading, separating and purifying metals and minerals using 'resins' - functionalised synthetic polymers that have the ability to exchange ions with those present in an aqueous solution - to transfer the target species from one solution to another via a solid substrate. Dilute solutions can be treated effectively, and the metal of interest can be removed or recovered selectively while rejecting others. Ion exchange also has the potential to treat poorly clarified liquors and pulps, thus avoiding the need for costly solid/liquid separations.

As an example, RIP technology can be used to clean up effluent (solution or slurry) streams and produce an environmentally friendlier effluent, while at the same time recovering trace amounts of valuable metals. This application will be a particular focus for the Bateman-Mintek team, as RIP allows elimination of the costly solid-liquid separation step required by competing technologies.

Typical applications include:

  • Removal of various impurities from base metal refineries
  • Copper, cobalt, nickel, zinc removal from slurries using RIP
  • Removal of copper, cobalt and nickel during zinc purification and copper refining



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