Oxidative Dissolution of Low-Grade Ni-Cu Ore and Impact on Flotation of Pentlandite

Benjamin Musuku*, Eija Saari, Olli Dahl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
72 Downloads (Pure)


This paper investigated the effect of mineral surface oxidation on the floatability of Kevitsa low-grade Ni-Cu ore. Physicochemical measurements, ethylene diamine tetra acetic acid (EDTA) extraction, and oxygen uptake experiments were carried out with slurry and recycled process water samples obtained from the Kevitsa Cu-Ni sequential concentrator plant. The pH of recycled process water, copper flotation feed, and nickel flotation feed dropped by 0.7, 0.4, and 0.7 points, respectively, from May to July. The oxygen demand increased from recycled process water to the copper flotation feed, then dropped for the nickel flotation feed. The nickel flotation feed Redox potential (ORP) was lowest for July, while EDTA extractable metals increased from May to July. There was a 20% drop in nickel recoveries from May to July. Based on ORP measurements of the nickel flotation feed, good nickel flotation takes place in a moderately oxidizing (75–170 mV) and alkaline (9.2–9.7 pH) environment. Therefore, the ORP/pH of the nickel flotation feed is important to the nickel flotation. The results showed that at the Kevitsa plant, the grinding process is an electrochemically active environment, which, together with the incoming recycled process water quality, defines the degree of mineral surface oxidation for flotation. The increasing corrosiveness of the recycled process water increased mineral surface oxidation and depressed pentlandite flotation. Laboratory flotation experiments confirmed the observed poor plant flotation response when the corrosiveness of recycled process water increased. Total dissolved solids (TDS) was proven to be a reliable online parameter for the corrosiveness of the recycled process water and was inversely proportional to the pentlandite recovery. The findings of this study may help the plant develop ways to enable a timely response to changes in recycled process water quality to prevent harmful impacts on pentlandite flotation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1406
Number of pages17
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • EDTA
  • nickel flotation
  • oxidation
  • physicochemical parameters
  • total dissolved solids


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