Friday, 23 September 2011

A review of Extractive Metallurgy of Nickel, Cobalt and Platinum-Group Metals

This book, by Crundwell et al, was announced on the blog on 25th August. I have just received this review by Fathi Habashi, Emeritus Professor of Laval University, Canada:

According to the authors, “the book describes and explains the methods by which three related ores and recyclables are made into high purity metals and chemicals, for materials processing. It focuses on present day processes and future developments rather than historical processes”. In about 600 pages the authors succeeded in fulfilling this objective. After an overview chapter in 18 pages that briefly outlines the extractive metallurgy of these metals, the book is then divided into four parts:

Part I - Extractive metallurgy of nickel and cobalt in 337 pages forming nearly half of the book

Part II - Extractive metallurgy of cobalt in 34 pages

Part III - Extractive metallurgy of the platinum-group metals in 139 pages

Part IV - Recycling nickel, cobalt, and platinum-group metals in 12 pages

This is then followed by 8 appendices in 35 pages as follows:

- Ferronickel Smelting of Non-Tropical Laterite Ores

- Caron Process for Processing Nickel Laterites

- Flash Cooling of Autoclaves

- Counter-Current Decantation of Leaching Slurries

- Recovering Nickel-, Copper-, Cobalt- and Platinum-Group Elements from Slags

- Electrorefining of High-Purity Nickel from Cast Impure Ni Alloy and Ni Matte Anodes

- Top Blown Rotary Converter

- Nickel Carbonylation Free Energies and Equilibrium Constants

Evidently, Part I and Part III form the bulk of the book. However, the hydrometallurgical operation in Norilsk where one million tonnes of sulfide ore per year are treated is not mentioned at all. Strange enough Part II contains material already in Part I and the unique operation in Morocco for the recovery of cobalt from cobalt arsenide ore is mentioned in two sentences [page 358]. The eight appendices could have well been inserted in the main parts of the book to avoid fragmentation.

It is usually said that a picture is better than hundred words. But, in this book many of the photographs are either not of good quality or of no real value. For example, 1.2, 1.7, 3.2, 3.4, 5.1, 6.1, 7.2, 11.3, etc. The strength of the book lies in the number of Tables comparing production details in different smelters and refineries around the world and the list of references at the end of each chapter. The book also includes many operating details for furnaces and other equipment as well as analyses of materials handled. This information must be considered as authoritative since the authors mention that they visited many plants and collected data on site. However, on examining the plants visited [mentioned on pages xi and xii] there is no mention of Cuba or Russia.

The work is a reference volume and not a textbook although of course a student can benefit greatly from studying its contents. The book is a welcome addition to the metallurgical library and any one involved in the nickel industry must be aware of this book. The price is of course quite high which renders the book to be only in public libraries and not in personal libraries.

The authors: Frank Crundwell is with CM Solutions in Johannesburg, Michael Moats with University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Venkoba Ramachandran with Ram consultants in Arizona, Timothy Robinson with Freeport-McMoRan Mining, and W. G. Davenport with University of Arizona in Tucson.

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