Precious Metal Distributions in Direct Nickel Matte Smelting with Low-Cu Mattes

P. Piskunen, K. Avarmaa, H. O’Brien, L. Klemettinen, H. Johto, P. Taskinen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Base metal (Cu, Fe, and Ni) and trace element (Ag, Au, Co, Pd, and Pt) distributions between low-iron nickel mattes with [Ni]:[Cu] = 4 (w/w) have been studied at 1623 K to 1723 K (1350 °C to 1450 °C). We equilibrated small slag–matte samples with CO–CO2–SO2–Ar atmospheres in pre-selected (Formula presented.)–(Formula presented.) points, maintaining silica saturation by fused silica crucibles. The slags studied contained about 0 to 8.5 wt pct MgO. The matte–slag distribution coefficients Lm/s[Me] were obtained from assays by electron probe X-ray microanalysis for the matte and by laser ablation-ICP-mass spectrometry for the slag. The measured Lm/s[Me] values were clearly dependent on iron concentration of the matte and on MgO concentration of the slag, with values on the order of 104, 105, and 104 for gold, platinum, and palladium, respectively, in the 5 wt pct iron in matte experiments. The obtained data for silver were scattered, due to volatilization, resulting in depletion of most silver and its escape from matte to gas phase during the 3-hour equilibration period. The matte-to-slag distribution coefficient for silver was estimated to be Lm/s[Ag] = 100 to 400. We also measured the distributions of the base metals Cu and Ni in the same conditions as the trace elements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-112
Number of pages15
JournalMetallurgical and Materials Transactions B: Process Metallurgy and Materials Processing Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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