Braemore Completes Nickel Testwork

Braemore Resources said it has successfully completed a program of testwork at Outotec’s research facilities in Pori, Finland, for the extraction of nickel from the BHP Leinster tailings dams in Western Australia. According to the company, the continuous pilot plant hydrometallurgical testwork allowed the optimization of process parameters and demonstrated the first production of nickel sulphate solutions as well as sulphate solutions of by-product base metals, copper, cobalt and zinc. The program also allowed for the first production of high purity nickel metal through electrowinning.

Braemore said this represents an important step in the feasibility studies currently under way for development of the first commercial leach plant to process Leinster nickel sulphide tailings. The rapid leaching of the nickel from the tailings, with nickel yields and dissolution rates of 95% to 96% in eight to 12 hours was achieved using direct leaching technology. Leach testwork also demonstrated that by-products of copper, cobalt and zinc could be produced with high recoveries in the solvent extraction stage (copper 100%, zinc 99.7% and cobalt 99%).

The economic evaluation of the process is now being rerun with the results of the final testwork, to be submitted to BHP in the first quarter of 2008. The definitive feasibility study into the establishment of a tailings leaching facility adjacent to the Leinster tailings dams in Western Australia is expected to be completed by June 2008. Commissioning of this first direct leach nickel processing plant is planned for 2009.

As featured in Womp 07 Vol 9 -