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Russian mining giant Nornickel generates value from waste tailings

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(Kitco News) - Russia’s Nornickel, the world's largest producer of palladium and high-grade nickel and a major producer of platinum and copper, announced today that its Polar Division carried out successful pilot testing of the technology to extract valuable components from pyrrhotite with a low nickel content.

The company said that pyrrhotite is generated at Talnakh Concentrator after the main cycle completes and is in effect a dump product to be discharged to the tailing dam. The new technology provides a significant boost in metal recovery for the company.

Nornickel added that it took Polar Division three months to conduct the pilot tests to recover valuable components. Nornickel’s Polar Division and South Cluster (part of the Norilsk Division) teamed up to create a technical solution to recover additional products from some waste tailings generated at Talnakh Concentrator.

The company said that their research showed that pyrrhotite with a low nickel content can be most effectively processed at Norilsk Concentrator (an internal business unit of South Cluster).

In early August, the first phase of the pilot testing was over and proved to be successful. The technology helped recover the additional amount of around 200 t of nickel, 50 t of copper, over 80 kg of platinum group metals, around 2 kg of gold and 44 kg of silver, Nornickel noted in its statement.  

Further studies have been underway to determine the reagent scheme at the concentration facilities. The updated scheme is expected to allow the company to substantially increase recovery of valuable components from low-grade products, the company said.

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