March 02, 2020

Cobalt extraction technologies

Cobalt extraction

The cobalt sector, traditionally important for chemicals, metallurgy, and pigments, is receiving increasing attention due to its strategic importance to the production of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.  However, Cobalt extraction and its production is complicated by its status as a byproduct of copper and nickel production.  With sedimentary copper-cobalt sources in the DR Congo under threat by legal changes, security concerns and poor logistics, laterite processing options are increasingly strategically favorable.  However, current laterite processing options for cobalt recovery are perceived as unsatisfactory and a wave of innovative processes is rising to challenge the previous generation of hydrometallurgical recovery options.

Cobalt Demand by End Use

Nexant’s recently issued TECH report Cobalt Extraction Technologies examines technologies available for cobalt refining, including options both innovative and established for processing sedimentary copper-cobalt ores and laterite nickel-cobalt ores. Options for replacing pressure acid leaching (PAL) processes in laterite processing are examined in particular. In addition, the report analyzes new technologies in the emerging battery recycling sector and their potential to produce refined cobalt independently of existing nickel smelters and other limited downstream options.

Economics of major copper-cobalt and nickel-cobalt ore processing methods are assessed against innovative technologies.  Process scenarios cover mine-gate production of cobalt-containing intermediates to offsite raffination processes as well as mine-integrated onsite product of refined cobalt metal.  In addition to commercial technologies, the report includes speculative economics on two novel processes for hydrometallurgical laterite processing that are approaching commercialization.

Click here to download the Report Table of Contents
Nexant’s Technoeconomics – Energy & Chemicals (TECH, formerly known as PERP) is globally recognized as the industry standard source of process evaluations of existing, new and emerging technologies to the chemical and energy industries. TECH’s comprehensive studies include detailed technology analyses, process economics, as well as commercial overviews and industry trends.

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The Author

Marcos Nogueira Cesar – Global Vice President, Nexant Subscriptions

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