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ArticleName Pressure oxidative leaching of copper cake from nickel refining plant in sulfuric acid media
DOI 10.17580/tsm.2020.01.03
ArticleAuthor Kritskii A. V., Jafari S., Sinisalo P., Lundström M.

Ural Federal University named after the first President of Russia B. N. Yeltsin, Yekaterinburg, Russia:

A. V. Kritskii, PhD student, engineer, lecturer-assistant, Department of Non-Ferrous Metallurgy, e-mail:


VTT Technical Research of Finland Ltd, Espoo, Finland:
S. Jafari, Lecturer and researcher


Fortum, Recycling and Waste, Pori, Finland:
P. Sinisalo, Development engineer


Aalto University, Espoo, Finland:
M. Lundström, Associate-professor, Department of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, Doctor of Technical Sciences


Manufacturing of nickel by hydrometallurgical technology at Harjavalta plant (Finland) had been caring out since 1960 by Outokumpu. Later on, the technology was modernized and currently Harjavalta plant belongs to PJSC “MMC Nornickel”. The plant is specializing on processing of copper-nickel mattes, converter mattes and by-products, originated from “Kola MMC” and third-party enterprises. Currently, the technology for the materials processing includes oxidative autoclave leaching (POX), solvent extraction, nickel electrowinning as well as solutions purification and metal salts obtaining stages. Selective POX produces nickel solution and copper cake (Cu-cake), which is a valuable by-product of the plant. The article presents the results on investigating the possibility of Cu-cake processing using POX in sulfate media at different temperature regimes. Low-temperature POX (105 oC) allowed to extract more than 95% Cu into solution within 30–60 min, while the dominating compound of solid residue was elemental sulfur; mass output of the solid residue was 20–25%. High-temperature POX (190 oC) allowed to extract more than 98% Cu in 60–80 min; mass output of the solid residue was 2.5–5%, which significantly increased a concentration of precious metals. Mid-temperature POX (150 oC) is characterized by increased duration. Copper extraction level of 95–98% is achieved at least after 120–180 minutes of leaching. Mass output of the solid residue was 6–10%. A detailed analysis of Cu-cake and the resulting products is provided. The behavior of precious metals was considered.
The work was supported by Act 211 Government of the Russian Federation, contract № 02.A03.21.0006.
The authors wish to also acknowledge the Circular Metal Ecosystem (CMEco) project (7405-31-2016) funded by Business Finland and thank the project partners, especially Mia Tiljander (XRD) and Sari Lukkari (FE-SEM) in GTK Research laboratory (Espoo, Finland) for conducting of the analysis and Jukka Marmo for collaboration. Nornickel Harjavalta are acknowledged for their support. Our gratitude also goes to RawMatTERS Finland Infrastructure (RAMI), supported by the Academy of Finland.

keywords Cu-cake, autoclave leaching, copper-nickel converter matte, sulfuric acid, extraction, hydrometallurgy, precious metals

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