Finalist in the Australian's Shell Innovation Award
The method, developed by Julian Malnic, of Sydney's Direct Nickel (ASX:DIR), and colleagues, is expected to facilitate processing of nickel bound in a common type of laterite rock. Laterite rocks, which are formed through weathering, bear most of the world's future nickel resources however up until now have been uneconomic to process using existing methods.
Most nickel is obtained from other kinds of deposits (sulphides) but these resources are fast being depleted or are too deep to mine, he says. "Nickel is forecast to suffer a supply shortfall from 2017."
Julian Malnic and the DNi team are finalists in the Australian's Shell Innovation Awards with the technology. The awards are run by The Australian in association with Shell and the support of the federal Department of Industry. The awards are judged in five professional categories with an additional Young Innovators category.
The Direct Nickel (DNi) Process is a hydrometallurgical process for nickel laterite deposits. It is believed to be the only process capable of treating the full laterite profile, from limonitic to saprolitic ores in a single flowsheet. It is a tank leach process that operates at atmospheric pressure, or with the option of mild pressure, and treats the ore at relatively low temperatures. The leach process uses a special reagent package to liberate in 2-4 hours more than 95% of the nickel, cobalt and other metals into solution. The insoluble residue is neutralised and sent to a waste disposal facility. The solution is then sequentially processed to extract the individual metals.
"Well over half of Australia's nickel reserves are in laterite ores," he says. "Solving the processing challenge is worth billions of dollars to the Australian economy alone.
"It will unlock nickel supplies around the world and result in lower cost and assured long-term supply of stainless steel."
The Shell Innovation Award is open for voting, and anyone can support this great Australian Innovation by voting in the Award.
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About Direct Nickel Limited
Direct Nickel Ltd (ASX:DIR) (DNi) is building a nickel inventory by acquiring interests in undervalued laterite resources and is substantially revaluing these resources by applying the DNi Process. A successful DNi Process will revalue nickel companies by 20-30 times (by market capitalisation).
Direct Nickel Limited