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Minerals 2018, 8(11), 523; https://doi.org/10.3390/min8110523

Thermal Pre-Treatment of Polymetallic Nodules to Create Metal (Ni, Cu, Co)-Rich Individual Particles for Further Processing

1
Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), Stilleweg 2, D-30655 Hannover, Germany
2
Unit of Mineral Processing, RWTH Aachen University, Lochnerstr. 4-20, Haus C, D-52064 Aachen, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 September 2018 / Revised: 23 October 2018 / Accepted: 25 October 2018 / Published: 11 November 2018
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Abstract

Polymetallic nodules are a potential source of industrially demanded metals such as Ni, Co, Cu, and Mo (up to 3 wt %). Even if there is no deep-sea mining of manganese nodules today, a forecasted gap between metal demand and supply as well as continuously high metal prices may make seabed mining economically viable in the future. Up to now, a well-established industrial-scale extraction method for manganese nodules has been missing. Therefore, the aim of this study is to explore how economically interesting metals can be extracted from the nodules in a cost- and energy-efficient way. Polymetallic nodules have a heterogeneous chemical and structural composition without individual metal-rich particles. The economically interesting metals are distributed between different mineral phases (Mn-Fe-(oxy)hydroxides) as well as different growth structures that are intergrown with each other on a nm‒µm scale. Because of that a typical ore processing with the beneficiation of valuable particles is not feasible. The process presented here starts with a pyro-metallurgical pre-treatment of the polymetallic nodules, with the aim of creating artificial metal-rich (Ni, Cu, Co, Mo) particles with enrichment factors up to 10 compared to the original average metal contents. Afterwards, these particles should be beneficiated by conventional mineral processing steps to create a concentrate while reducing the mass stream in the process. The resulting metal particles can be further treated in conventional hydrometallurgical and/or pyro-metallurgical processes. View Full-Text
Keywords: polymetallic nodules; metallurgical treatment; nickel; copper; cobalt polymetallic nodules; metallurgical treatment; nickel; copper; cobalt
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Wegorzewski, A.V.; Köpcke, M.; Kuhn, T.; Sitnikova, M.A.; Wotruba, H. Thermal Pre-Treatment of Polymetallic Nodules to Create Metal (Ni, Cu, Co)-Rich Individual Particles for Further Processing. Minerals 2018, 8, 523.

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