Enhanced recovery of nickel from chromite overburden (COB) using dissimilatory Fe (III) reducers: A novel Bio-Reduction Acid Leaching (BRAL) approach

Esther J., Panda S. , Sukla L. B. , Pradhan N., Sarangi C. K. , Subbaiah T.

HYDROMETALLURGY, vol.155, pp.110-117, 2015 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 155
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.hydromet.2015.04.019
  • Title of Journal : HYDROMETALLURGY
  • Page Numbers: pp.110-117


The nickeliferous chromite overburden (COB) awaits a suitable technology to extract the obstinate nickel ingrained in its goethite matrix. In the present study, a novel Bio-Reduction Acid Leaching (BRAL) approach has been proposed using dissimilatory iron reducing bacteria (DIRB) which is inherently capable of transforming iron mineral phases via bio-reduction (BR). Mineralogical characterization of the bio-reduced COB using XRD and FTIR confirmed the phase transformation of goethite to hematite and magnetite with exposure of the nickel oxide peaks. Further, morphological characterization using FESEM vividly highlighted the changes of acicular goethite to granular magnetite deposits on the extra polymeric substance (a scaffold for electron transfer) secreted by DIRB consortium over the surface of COB. Further, enhanced nickel extraction was achieved with a reductive acid leaching (AL) approach with 6N sulfuric acid and 2% glucose ( reducing agent) at 65 degrees C for 6 h. A cumulative of 83.6% nickel was achieved through this BRAL approach. The pregnant leach solution (PLS) generated as a result of the AL approach was subjected to a hydrometallurgical route to recover metallic nickel. Solvent extraction (SX) of the PIS was performed using 0.5 M NaD2EHPA as extractant The pregnant nickel-loaded electrolyte was subjected to electrowinning (EW) to recover metallic nickel of 99.6% purity. The process flow-sheet is believed to provide a suitable eco-friendly, potential method to efficiently extract nickel from low grade nickel laterites to meet the ever growing demands caused by depletion of high grade nickel sulfidic ores. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.