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Frequently Asked Questions - Processing

Q. What is hydrometallurgical technology?
A. Hydrometallurgy, or hydromet for short, is a mineral processing technology that uses water based solutions of chemicals to dissolve valuable metals from their ores or concentrates or intermediate products such as matte, leaving the waste components such as rock, iron oxides and sulphur in a solid residue that can be disposed of or impounded in an environmentally responsible and acceptable manner.  The solutions contain impurity metals as well as the valuable metals and must be purified chemically before the valuable metal is recovered from the solution in the form of a pure product.
Q. Is hydromet a new technology?
A. Hydromet in general is not new.  Many operations, some of them in Canada, have used hydrometallurgical processes for years for extraction of zinc and copper from ores and sulphide concentrates, and even for extraction of nickel from nickel mattes.  What is new is the development of an economically viable hydrometallurgical process for direct processing of nickel-cobalt sulphide concentrate to produce high purity electronickel.
Q. When will the Long Harbour Processing Plant be operational?
A. Preparations for the processing plant in Long Harbour began in 2006 and engineering and procurement for the Long Harbour Processing Plant are nearing completion. Construction began in April 2009 and is expected to be complete in 2013 at which time operations will begin.

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