This paper concerns the development of an environment-friendly hydrometallurgical flowsheet dedicated to the recovery of zinc and nickel from a waste residue collected from an Iranian zinc plant. In particular, valuable metals from Ni-Cd cake waste generated at this plant were recovered by a simple hydrometallurgical process using minimum acid for leaching, and solvent extraction step was designed such that addition of sodium hydroxide was not required and the effluent generated is safe to dispose off. The waste was leached with a mixture of hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid in the presence of hydrogen peroxide in order to achieve a good selectivity towards iron and calcium. Afterwards, cementation was performed at pH 5 in order to remove cadmium. Liquid–liquid extraction was then implemented to produce high-purity solutions of zinc and nickel. Zinc-nickel separation was obtained at pH 2 by using a mixture of bis-(2-ehtyl-hexyl)-phosphoric acid (HDEHP) and tris-2-ethylhexyl amine (TEHA) diluted in an aliphatic kerosene. TEHA did not directly participate but helped in the extraction of zinc by scavenging the protons released by HDEHP. Therefore, no alkaline solution was necessary for maintaining the equilibrium pH during liquid–liquid extraction. Finally, this flowsheet allowed to recover more than 95% of zinc and nickel from the residue with more than 99% purity.
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