Philippine nickel mine features 'green' innovations

A Norwegian mining company aiming to develop one of the world's largest nickel mines is taking extra measures to convince local populations the mine "is not what people perceive it to be," says a report in mb.com.ph.

The article says that Intex Resources ASA (ITX:ASA) has applied for a patent for a "green mining" plan at the Mindoro nickel mine that involves water conservation and a new mineral processing method that uses hydrometallurgy only — as opposed to both hydrometallurgy and smelting — to extract the nickel from the saprolite and limonite ores:

Traditionally saprolite is processed by pyrometallurgy or smelting, while limonite is treated by hydrometallurgy, a process that requires acid.

“We have managed to combine the two into a single flow sheet that utilizes hydrometallurgy only, and patented this process worldwide.” The new process has undergone rigorous bench testing, followed by a period of industrial-scale production overseen by SGS Laboratories of Canada at a specially commissioned pilot plant. “And interestingly, the results from the pilot tests were even better than the bench tests, which have created a lot more excitement than we had ever anticipated.”

Intex, which has spent $50 million thus far in developing the mine and completing a feasibility study, has also set up a water supply system from natural wells and provided fresh water to some 10,000 people in adjacent communities, mb.com.ph reported.

Image of a water supply system courtesy of Intex Resources