Nickel laterite heap leaching was first developed by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) primarily by Professor Lina Agatzini-Leonardou in the early 1990’s. Various technical publications and presentations were made by the NTUA in the mid to late 1990’s and some of the major resource companies commenced investigations into heap leaching, following these publications. More recently NTUA, in conjunction with LARCO, has constructed and is operating a demonstration heap leach plant in Greece.
The pace of development has picked up since 2000 with demonstration plants constructed at Yuanjiang in China, Çaldag in Turkey, Murrin Murrin in WA, Cerro Matoso in Colombia, Acoje in the Philippines and Níquel do Piauí in Brazil.
Following the Global Financial Crisis and subsequent impact on the mining industry, in particular the impact on raising finance for small to medium sized mining companies, development for many of the nickel projects was suspended. The mining sector has recovered however the nickel sector is being negatively impacted by the rapid expansion of nickel pig iron, smelters and even stainless steel mills being installed and commissioned in Indonesia.
Despite the poor performance of the nickel sector over the past 7 to 8 years, a number of companies are actively pursuing nickel laterite heap leaching, including Brazilian Nickel.
Malachite Consulting provides a full development package from concept through to commissioning of a heap leach project. Malachite Consulting would provide the overall project management and typically the major components to such a project would include:
- Conceptual, Technical and Financial Evaluation
- Metallurgical Testwork Development
- Engineering Studies
- Heap Design & Dynamic Simulation
- Geotechnical Evaluations
In addition there are a number of companies who would provide the supporting services required for a project of this nature:
- Resource Evaluation
- Mine Planning
- Heap Leach Modelling
- Environmental Studies
- Water Supply and Evaluation
- Supply Logistics
- Materials Handling & Flow Properties
- Legal Services – Intellectual Property
- Risk Assessments
- Independent Auditing
- EPCM Services
- Product Marketing