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PROJECTS

EcoMetals Resource Group is currently working on its first project located in Palawan, Philippines. This area is extremely rich in valuable ore deposits, and with the recent shift in government policy, the stage is set for an incredible investment in the future. 

This project will build a state-of-the-art processing plant that utilizes superior, efficient, and near-zero waste extraction technology provided by the Altilium Group. This patented recovery and recycling technology is called the Direct Nickel Process™. The DNi Process™ is an environmentally friendly process for extracting nickel, cobalt, and other precious metals from laterite ore that ensures the sustainability of natural resources. It features >98% nitric acid recycling, no tailings dam requirements and, near-zero waste. (for detailed information https://altiliumgroup.com/the-dni-process/ )

The demand for this processing plant is extremely high as the vast majority of mined ore is currently loaded onto barges and shipped to China for processing
. This demand will only continue to rise as additional mines come online within the Palawan area,

We selected the DNi Process™ waste is minimized, and the recovery of more metals is maximized, driving significantly higher revenues
.

This project will not only create significant profit potential for investors, but also make an impact on the global community and its fight against climate change. For investment opportunities in this project, Click Here.
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PREPARATION

Blending: The DNi Process™ can handle different types of ores (limonite, intermediate, and saprolite) all at once, without needing to separate them. This means we use all parts of the laterite ore. Because of this, we can mine ore with lower nickel content and still get good value, making the resource more valuable overall.

Drying: The ore is dried before further processing. This helps in the next steps and reduces the energy needed to remove extra water from the ore.

Comminution: After drying, the ore goes through a crushing and grinding process called comminution. Here, the ore is crushed and ground down until all of it can pass through a 1mm sieve, making it ready for the next steps.

LEACHING

In the leaching process, we add 0.9 to 2.5 tonnes of nitric acid (HNO3) to each tonne of ore. The leach tanks operate at 110°C, which is just below the boiling point of the mixture. Most of this heat is generated by the reaction between the acid and the ore.

The leaching process takes about 3 to 6 hours. During this time, the acid breaks down the ore, resulting in a solution called pregnant leach solution (PLS). This solution is rich in dissolved metals like nickel (Ni), cobalt (Co), iron (Fe), magnesium (Mg), chromium (Cr), aluminum (Al), and scandium (Sc), and it leaves behind about 10-15% solids.

The leaching tanks are covered and work at normal air pressure. All gases produced during the process are collected and sent to a system that recycles the acid.

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LIQUID-SOLID SEPARATION

The Pregnant Leach Solution (PLS) is separated from the leftover solids (leach residue) using Counter Current Decantation units (CCDs) and then pressure filtration. The leach residue consists of minerals that don't dissolve in the leaching process, like silicates, aluminosilicates, and clays.

After washing, magnesium oxide (MgO) is added to the residue slurry. This neutralizes any remaining acid and raises the pH to 7. The slurry is then filtered, dried, and stacked for return to the mine. The residue contains a small amount of magnesium nitrate, which can act as a fertilizer and help with revegetation of the site.

This combination of solid/liquid separation and pressure filtration helps maximize the recovery of nitric acid from the nitrate, which is an important feature of the Direct Nickel Process.

IRON HYDROLYSIS

The leach solution is sent to the iron hydrolysis circuit to remove iron. The Pregnant Leach Solution (PLS) is heated close to its boiling point, around 120°C. As the solution heats up, water and nitric acid vaporize and are removed. This increases the concentration of salts in the solution, which raises its boiling point from 120°C to about 165°C.

The vapor that comes off during this process is collected and sent back to the acid recovery circuit. When the solution reaches 140°C, the ferric nitrate in it breaks down into hematite (Fe2O3), which is a by-product that can be sold.

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ALUMINIUM PRECIPITATION

The aluminum precipitation process has two stages to minimize the loss of nickel and cobalt. In the first stage, magnesium oxide (MgO) is added to the solution to increase the pH, causing the aluminum to start forming a solid hydroxide.

In the second stage, the leftover aluminum is sent back to the iron hydrolysis circuit to be dissolved again, aiming to keep only 10-20 parts per million (ppm) of aluminum in the solution.

The aluminum hydroxide from the first stage is then thickened and filtered. This by-product contains most of the scandium from the ore and is an intermediate product that needs further refining. It can be processed to produce high purity alumina (HPA), containing about 20-24% aluminum along with small amounts of iron (Fe), magnesium (Mg), nickel (Ni), cobalt (Co), and manganese (Mn).

MIXED NICKEL/COBALT HYDROXIDE PRECIPITATION

After removing the aluminum, the Pregnant Leach Solution (PLS) goes to the Mixed Hydroxide Precipitate (MHP) circuit. Here, magnesium oxide (MgO) is added to increase the pH, causing the nickel and cobalt to form solid precipitates.

This process is done in two stages to ensure all impurities are removed. In the first stage, the MHP is thickened and filtered as usual. In the second stage, the MHP is thickened and sent back to the iron hydrolysis circuit to be dissolved again, making sure no nickel or cobalt is left behind. The remaining solution, now without nickel and cobalt, is used to recycle the nitric acid.

The MHP typically contains 40-45% nickel and 1-3% cobalt. It also has some nitrogen in the form of nitrate. The MHP can then be sent to another facility to be refined into nickel and cobalt sulfates, which are used in manufacturing batteries for electric vehicles (EVs).

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BARREN EVAPORATION

In the barren evaporation circuit, the leftover solution is heated to evaporate the water. The evaporated water is then condensed in a heat exchanger and reused in the plant as clean water.

The heating process raises the temperature of the solution from 120°C to 200-210°C. This concentrated solution becomes magnesium nitrate dihydrate to trihydrate (Mg(NO3)2.2-3H2O), which is a type of hydrated molten salt. This molten salt can be easily pumped to the next part of the process.

THERMAL DECOMPOSITION

The concentrated barren solution is fed into the thermal decomposition unit, where it is heated from 200-210°C to over 500°C. During this process, it loses the remaining water and breaks down into magnesium oxide (MgO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and oxygen (O2).

The MgO is a solid product, while the NOx and O2, along with water vapor, exit the unit as a hot gas. This gas stream is then converted into nitric acid in the next part of the process.

A cost-saving feature of the Direct Nickel Process™ is that some of the MgO produced here is reused in the plant as a neutralizing agent, which means we don't have to buy lime or limestone. Depending on the ore blend, there is usually a significant amount of excess MgO available for sale.

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NITRIC ACID RECOVERY

The hot gases from the thermal decomposition unit, which contain oxygen (O2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and water vapor (H2O), are cooled to condense the water. This gas stream is then fed through acid recovery columns where the NOx and O2 react with the water to form nitric acid.

This patented process produces a high-strength nitric acid, usually around 55-60% HNO3. Over 99% of the initial acid used in the leaching process is recycled. Only about 5% of new acid needs to be added, which is typically 30-80 kg of acid per tonne of ore.

Because most of the acid is generated by recycling, the DNi Process™ can handle ores that consume a lot of acid, not just those that consume less acid.

EXTRACTION OF METALS

In this process, 90-98% of the nickel and cobalt are successfully extracted from the ore. The extraction rates for iron, magnesium, aluminum, and scandium depend on the specific minerals present in the ore.

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For more information on the Direct Nickel ProcessClick Here to visit the Altilium website. (Link will open in a new window)

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