Document Type : Original Research Paper


School of Mining Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran


Due to the decreasing production of nickel and cobalt from sulfide sources, the Ni and Co extraction from the oxide ores (laterites) have become more prevalent. In this research work, the effects of calcination prior to leaching, acid concentration, percent solid, pH, and stirring speed on the nickel and cobalt recoveries from an iron-rich laterite ore sample were investigated using different organic acids. Then the response surface methodology was implemented in order to optimize the various parameters. By the design of experiments, the compound optimal concentrations of the three different organic acids (gluconic acid: lactic acid: citric acid with a ratio of 1:2:3) were 3.18 M, and S/L = 0.1, pH = 0.5, and the stirring speed = 386 rpm. With the aid of kinetic studies, a temperature of 75 °C, and a test time of 120 minutes, the highest nickel and cobalt recoveries were 25.5% and 37.6%, respectively. In the optimal conditions, the contribution of the percent solids to the nickel recovery was the most and negative, after which the contribution of pH was negative, and finally, the acid concentration had a positive effect. In the optimal conditions, the acid concentration, pH, and solid content were, respectively, important in the cobalt recovery. The SEM results showed that the surface of feed and residue particles in the optimal conditions was not significantly different, and the laboratory data was fitted to a shrinking core model. The results obtained indicated that the reaction rate was controlled by the diffusion reaction at the particle surface, and the activation energies of 11.09 kJ/mol for nickel and 28.04 kJ/mol for cobalt were consistent with this conclusion


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