Electrolytic Reduction of Cobalt in Ammoniacal Leach Solutions; Electrolytic Reduction of Cobal tin Ammoniacal Leach Solutions
Description:The Bureau of Mines has devised and demonstrated an ammoniacal sulfate leach process for recovering nickel and cobalt from low-grade domestic laterites. Solvent extraction of cobalt, one of the process steps, requires the reduction of hexammine complexes of C03+ to C02+ in an ammo-niacal leach solution. Previously, reduction was accomplished using cobalt metal shot in a column. This report presents experimental results and an economic evaluation comparing two alternate techniques with the shot column: (1) an electrolytic reduction cell with an extended surface area cathode and (2) direct electrowinning from purified leach solution using a cell with a fluid bed cathode. The second alternative eliminates the conventional solvent extraction-electrowinning steps. The costs of the three methods, based on the requirements of a pro-posed commercial-sized plant, including all unit operations, were deter-mined by the Bureau's process evaluation group. The operating costs for the shot column, $1.19/kg Co, and for electrolytic reduction, $1.20/kg, are essentially the same, but the cost of direct electrowinning, $3.77/ kg Co, would eliminate this method as a practical alternative. The cap-ital cost of approximately $14.4 million for reduction in a shot column is much higher than the approximately $4.4 million for electroreduction.
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