LCR specialises Nickel Concentrates and also handles many types and forms of non-ferrous secondaries including, fines, slags, residues, sludges, ashes etc. containing: Co, Cu, Mo, Ni, V, W, Zn.
Nickel is a chemical element with the symbol Ni and atomic number 28. It is a silvery-white lustrous metal with a slight golden tinge. Nickel belongs to the transition metals and is hard and ductile. Pure nickel, powdered to maximize the reactive surface area, shows a significant chemical activity, but larger pieces are slow to react with air under standard conditions because an oxide layer forms on the surface and prevents further corrosion (passivation). Even so, pure native nickel is found in Earth’s crust only in tiny amounts, usually in ultramafic rocks, and in the interiors of larger nickel–iron meteorites that were not exposed to oxygen when outside Earth’s atmosphere.
Extraction and purification
Nickel is obtained through extractive metallurgy: it is extracted from the ore by conventional roasting and reduction processes that yield a metal of greater than 75% purity. In many stainless steel applications, 75% pure nickel can be used without further purification, depending on the impurities.
Traditionally, most sulfide ores have been processed using pyrometallurgical techniques to produce a matte for further refining. Recent advances in hydrometallurgical techniques resulted in a significantly purer metallic nickel product. Most sulfide deposits have traditionally been processed by concentration through a froth flotation process followed by pyrometallurgical extraction. In hydrometallurgical processes, nickel sulfide ores are concentrated with flotation (differential flotation if Ni/Fe ratio is too low) and then smelted. The nickel matte is further processed with the Sherritt-Gordon process. First, copper is removed by adding hydrogen sulfide, leaving a concentrate of cobalt and nickel. Then, solvent extraction is used to separate the cobalt and nickel, with the final nickel content greater than 99%.
Who Are We?
LCR aims to offer commercially competitive recycling options with an emphasis on environmentally sound management including assistance with notification procedures where necessary. We are partnered with fully licenced recycling facilities in Europe and the Far East.
The spent catalysts are recycled and used to produce high-quality metal salts for final applications including new catalyst manufacture, pigments and CO2 removal processes.
However the importance of environmentally sound recycling options has grown significantly in recent years due to the pressure both legislatively and environmentally. National and international requirements for spent catalyst generators have forced refiners to comply with increasingly restrictive legislation.
This situation has now been exacerbated by the downturn in the metal markets worldwide. For example, from 2003 until 2013 the price of Molybdenum, the main metal of value in HDS catalyst, remained above $10 per lb, peaking at over $45 per lb in 2004.
Offering Something Different
But since the end of 2013, the price has fallen to below $ 5 per lb and despite the recent recovery to above $8 per lb the future remains unclear. The major usage for Molybdenum is in the steel industry and due to the downturn in the steel market, particularly in China, supply far outstrips demand and until the industry recovers prices are likely to remain low. At these low prices we have recently witnessed a number of spent catalyst recycling facilities being unable to make a profit and choosing to exit the market. In some cases the decision has been to mothball their facilities in the hope of re-entering the market at a later date but others have been forced into permanent closure. Spent catalyst has gone from being an easily traded by-product to something of little or no value leaving refiners with fewer and fewer options and even having to consider landfill rather than recycling.
In our opinion, there should only be one answer – recycling. In a world of declining natural resources, sustainable resource management through recycling must be the chosen path wherever possible. We understand that landfilling what in most cases is a classified hazardous waste, may in the short term save some costs but it can also have a negative impact on the industry, particularly if an acceptable recycling alternative is available. But how can the refiner make an informed decision if they are not in possession of all the facts required to make the decision and do not have the necessary know-how to act upon it? We believe that the solution is to partner with a company whose business is not oil refining but is in recycling and who have the knowledge, experience and understanding required.
We at London Chemicals & Resources Ltd have over 10 years’ experience of offering generators of spent catalyst customised solutions for their spent catalyst.
For more about us, please click here.
How Did We Do?
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If you would like to speak to someone directly about our recycling of Nickel Concentrates services, please call us on +44 (0)20 7183 0651 or visit our contact page, or contact us via LinkedIn and we will be happy to answer any of your questions.