Cobalt loss due to iron precipitation in ammoniacal carbonate solutions
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Restrictions in the proportion of recoverable cobalt from laterite ores in the Caron Process are attributed to multiple effects. One of these is adsorption of cobalt solution species on the precipitated iron oxide phase. Cobalt loss to an iron oxide precipitate produced in an ammoniacal carbonate solution was investigated. Adsorption experiments, both during and after iron precipitation, were conducted under a variety of process conditions. While prior research has focussed more on cobalt adsorption on hematite, the primary phase present in the residue was found to be ferrihydrite. Based on significant differences in adsorption capacity between various iron oxide phases, the material present in the residue will make a significant difference in cobalt losses. Cobalt loss was minimised at low iron concentrations, pH 10 and high ammonia concentrations, while temperature (over the range tested) did not display a significant impact on cobalt loss or the precipitated phase.
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