Nickel demand is increasing along with the rising need for stainless steel and other alloy steel/iron. The small addition of nickel in such materials can improve impact strength, ductility and corrosion resistance. Nickel is generally obtained from nickel sulfide ores (nickel associated with sulfur) and nickel laterite ores (nickel associated with iron and magnesium silicate). Almost 60 percent of nickel is now produced from sulfide ores, despite its existence in sulfide ores being less than in laterite ores. However, the depletion of sulfide ore reserves makes the mastery of nickel laterite ore processing of important and immediate concern. Selective reduction followed by magnetic separation has been in development in lateritic nickel ore processing to overcome the issues of high energy consumption and pollution associated with conventional pyrometallurgy methods such as blast furnace and rotary kiln electric arc furnace (RKEF). In the present process, nickel laterite is reduced at moderate temperatures of 1,100 to 1,200 °C with a limited reduction atmosphere. Some additives are added to the nickel laterite to obtain a low melting point phase. The liquidus phase plays an important role in selective reduction,
which could promote the agglomeration of ferronickel.
Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (2021) 38:2145–2159, https://doi.org/10.1007/s42461-021-00456-1