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Open AccessArticle

Mechanism for the Bio-Oxidation and Decomposition of Pentlandite: Implication for Nickel Bioleaching at Elevated pH

by Jianzhi Sun 1,2, Jiankang Wen 1,2,*, Biao Wu 1,2 and Bowei Chen 2
1
National Engineering Laboratory of Biohydrometallurgy, GRINM Resources and Environmental Technology Corporation Limited, Beijing 101407, China
2
GRINM Group Corporation Limited, Beijing 100088, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Minerals 2020, 10(3), 289; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10030289
Received: 28 February 2020 / Revised: 17 March 2020 / Accepted: 18 March 2020 / Published: 23 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Surface Chemistry in Mineral Processing and Extractive Metallurgy)
This work investigated the effects of Fe3+, H+ and adsorbed leaching bacteria on the bioleaching of pentlandite. Collectively, an integrated model for the oxidation and decomposition of pentlandite was built to describe the behaviors of different components in a bioleaching system. Proton ions and ferric ions could promote the break and oxidation of Ni-S and Fe-S bonds. The iron-oxidizing microorganisms could regenerate ferric ions and maintain a high Eh value. The sulfur-oxidizing microorganisms showed significant importance in the oxidation of polysulfide and elemental sulfur. The atoms in pentlandite show different modification pathways during the bioleaching process: iron transformed through a (Ni,Fe)9S8 → Fe2+ → Fe3+ → KFe3(SO4)2(OH)6 pathway; nickel experienced a transformation of (Ni,Fe)9S8 → NiS → Ni2+; sulfur modified through the pathway of S2−/S22− → Sn2− → S0 → SO32− → SO42−. During bioleaching, a sulfur-rich layer and jarosite layer formed on the mineral surface, and the rise of pH value accelerated the process. However, no evidence for the inhibition of the layers was shown in the bioleaching of pentlandite at pH 3.00. This study provides a novel method for the extraction of nickel from pentlandite by bioleaching at elevated pH values. View Full-Text
Keywords: pentlandite; bioleaching; bioleaching microorganisms; solution chemistry; surface modification; elevated pH pentlandite; bioleaching; bioleaching microorganisms; solution chemistry; surface modification; elevated pH
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Sun, J.; Wen, J.; Wu, B.; Chen, B. Mechanism for the Bio-Oxidation and Decomposition of Pentlandite: Implication for Nickel Bioleaching at Elevated pH. Minerals 2020, 10, 289.

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