Pure nickel reacts with oxygen and therefore is seldom found on the earth39s surface despite being the fifth most abundant element on and in our planet In combination with iron nickel is extremely stable which explains both its occurrence in iron containing ores and its effective use in combination with iron to make stainless steel.
Nickel is very strong and resistant to corrosion making it excellent for strengthening metal alloys It is also very ductile and malleable properties that allow its many alloys to be shaped into wire rods tubes and sheets.
Baron Axel Fredrik Cronstedt first extracted pure nickel in 1751 but it was known to exist much earlier Chinese documents from around 1500BC make reference to 39white copper39 baitong which was very likely an alloy of nickel and silver Fifteenth century German miners who believed they could extract copper from nickel ores in Saxony referred to the metal as kupfernickel 39the devil39s copper 39 partly due to their futile attempts to extract copper from the ore but also likely in part due to the health effects caused by the high arsenic content in the ore.
In 1889 James Riley made a presentation to the Iron and Steel Institute of Great Britain on how the introduction of nickel could strengthen traditional steels Riley39s presentation resulted in a growing awareness of nickel39s beneficial alloying properties and coincided with the discovery of large nickel deposits in New Caledonia and Canada.
By the early 20th century the discovery of ore deposits in Russia and South Africa made large scale production of nickel possible Not long after World War I and World War II resulted in a significant increase in steel and consequently nickel demand.
Nickel is primarily extracted from the nickel sulfides pentlandite pyrrhotite and millerite which contain about 1 nickel content and the iron containing lateritic ores limonite and garnierite which contain about 4 nickel content Nickel ores are mined in 23 countries while nickel is smelted in 25 different countries.
The separation process for nickel is highly dependent upon the type of ore Nickel sulfides such as those found in the Canadian Shield and Siberia are generally found deep underground making them labor intensive and expensive to extract However the separation process for these ores is much cheaper than for the lateritic variety such as those found in New Caledonia Moreover nickel sulfides often have the benefit of containing impurities of other valuable elements that can be economically separated.
Sulfide ores can be separated using froth flotation and hydrometallurgical or magnetic processes to create nickel matte and nickel oxide These intermediate products which usually contain 40 70 nickel are then further processed often using the Sherritt Gordon Process.
The Mond or Carbonyl Process is the most common and efficient method to treat nickel sulfide In this process the sulfide is treated with hydrogen and fed into a volatilization kiln Here it meets carbon monoxide at about 140F 60C to form nickel carbonyl gas The nickel carbonyl gas decomposes on the surface of pre heated nickel pellets that flow through a heat chamber until they reach the desired size At higher temperatures this process can be used to form nickel powder.
After mining nickel ores are further processed to upgrade their nickel contents from 1 4 typical of the ores to concentrates with grades in the range 10 20 Concentration involves crushing the ore and separating nickel bearing from other minerals using various physical and chemical processing methods.
Jul 23 2020nbsp018332Tesla Inc boss Elon Musk urged miners to produce more nickel a key ingredient in the batteries that power the companys electric cars warning the current cost of batteries remained a.
Jul 31 2020nbsp018332Canada Nickel will explore the use of various alternatives to achieve its NetZero objectives in each stage of the mining process mining milling and processing Mining The biggest single technology to reduce the carbon footprint of mining activities is the utilisation of electric rope shovels and trolley trucks which utilise electricity.
1 day agonbsp018332The nickel carbon intensity curve covers Scope 1 and 2 emissions from mine sites plus freight and downstream processing to the first saleable nickel product Class 1 Nickel for concentrate.
This guide is compiled by staff at the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library on a topic of interest to state legislators It introduces the topic and points to sources for further research It is not intended to be exhaustive.
Jul 28 2019nbsp018332The Mond or Carbonyl Process is the most common and efficient method to treat nickel sulfide In this process the sulfide is treated with hydrogen and fed into a volatilization kiln Here it meets carbon monoxide at about 140F176 60C176 to form nickel carbonyl gas The nickel carbonyl gas decomposes on the surface of pre heated nickel.
In 1966 the federal government granted the International Nickel Company Inc INCO two preference rights mineral leases MNES 01352 and MNES 01353 in Northern Minnesota near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area WildernessnbspBWCAW and within the Rainy River watershed These leases predate many of the environmental protection acts that would soon follow in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s.
Meanwhile AMAX had proposednbspestablishing a mine near Babbitt Minnesota In July 1974 the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency MPCAnbspheld a hearing to discuss AMAX39s intention to carry outnbspenvironmental assessments for their copper nickel projects given concerns from the Environmental Quality Council EQC nbspthe predecessor to the Environmental Quality Board and others After some back and forth between the MPCA EQC and environmental groups AMAX was permitted to establish a test site in 1976.
Given all thisnbspinterest in copper nickel mining exploration at the time the EQCnbspadopted a resolution in 1974 requiring an adequate regional study examining environmental social and economic impacts of non ferrous miningnbspbefore the acceptance of any environmental impact studies This resolution led to the Minnesota Regional Copper Nickel Study and effectively put a moratorium on copper nickel mining in the region until the study39snbspcompletion.
The Minnesota Regional Copper Nickel Study published in 1979 nbsptook five years to complete at a cost of 4 3 million contained over 180 technical reports and examined an area of 2 100 square miles The goal was to study the possible region wide environmental social and economic effects of copper nickel mining and to collect baseline data from which to measure the effects of mining development.
The study revealed thatnbspcopper nickel mining in the region could meet environment standards if available technology was used wisely but that production near existing iron facilities might exceed established environmental guidelines The study also found that the ore deposits of the region contained an estimated 50 billion of minerals and that a copper nickel industry in the region could create over 2 000 new jobs.
After the study39s publication the public was both excited by the economic possibilities of a new mining industry in northern Minnesota and concerned by its possible environmental effects Eventually falling copper prices and difficulties in the process of refining the low grade ore of the region led AMAX and INCOnbspto abandon their plans and a copper nickel industry did not take root in northern Minnesota at that time.
The Legislative Reference Library39s collection includes hundreds of reports that were issued in the late 1970s as part of the Copper Nickel study The full collection has been digitized and reports are linked in sections below.
In recent years there has been renewed interest in copper nickel mining in Northern Minnesota particularly by thenbspPolyMet Mining Corporation PolyMet andnbspTwin Metals Minnesota Twin Metals These companies arenbsppursuing mining in the same general locationsnbspAMAX and INCO explored 40 years go.
A small Canadian mining company says it has found a way to mine nickel without spewing a ton of carbon into the atmosphere an engineering challenge that no less than Teslas Elon Musk says is.
It operates mining assets in Australia and in North and South America that focus on copper iron ore coal nickel zinc and potash It also has a petroleum business that produces oil and gas.
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