Kingston Process Metallurgy Inc.Experimental research and Process Optimization

EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH & PROCESS OPTIMIZATION

The core of the company's activities is client-driven experimental research for process development and optimization. We specialize in experimental design, bench-scale laboratory work, mini-pilot campaigns, flow sheet development, unit operation selection, and process modeling to provide clients with conceptual process designs. KPM has the unique combination of fundamental knowledge, expertise, and resources to conduct applied experimental research for the development of novel processes. We maintain confidentiality of our client's projects in order to give them a sustainable advantage, and will only publish results at their request. Our team has expertise working with a wide range of materials and processes. Click on the material or process below for more information and related projects:
MATERIALS BASE METALS

KPM performed a wide range of projects related to base metal production and recycling. Projects in copper (Cu), nickel (Ni), lead (Pb), and zinc (Zn) address a variety of issues and use a range of technologies. Work is also regularly perform work on base metal by-products, including tellurium (Te), selenium (Se), cadmium (Cd), arsenic (As), tin (Sn), bismuth (Bi), indium (in), etc. Sample projects at KPM involving base metals are:

  • Copper slag slow cooling
  • Nickel laterite novel processing
  • Control and reduction of arsenic emissions
  • Lead de-tinning optimization
  • Scrubbing of selenium emission from stack of recycling operation
  • Tellurium slag casting environmental control
  • Copper oxide ore processing through segregation process
  • Lead blast furnace slag optimization
  • Indium/gallium recovery from oxidized waste stream
  • Copper/bismuth concentrate smelting and refining
LIGHT METALS

The production of light metals was at the base of KPM business since inception. Over the years, we performed a large number of projects in aluminum (Al), magnesium (Mg), sodium (Na), lithium (Li) and titanium (Ti).

Some examples of projects are:

  • Aluminum chloride (AlCl3) production and aluminum (Al) electrolysis
  • Inert anodes and cermet cathode fabrication and testing for aluminum (Al) production
  • Improvements to Al electrolysis efficiency
  • Magnesium chloride (MgCl2) production and magnesium (Mg) electrolysis
  • Lithium chloride (LiCl) production and lithium (Li) electrolysis
  • Improvements to sodium (Na) electrolysis
  • Titanium (Ti) and titanium powder production
  • Aluminum demagging
  • Titanium oxides carbochlorination for TiCl4 production
  • Electrode properties and selection for molten salt electrolysis applications
  • Optimization of electrolyte composition for light metals production
  • Role of impurities during light metals electrolysis
  • Cell sludge formation and impact on operation
  • Magnesium dross cleaning
  • Aluminum salt cake recycling
  • Cryolite treatment and recovery
  • Spodumene ore upgrading
  • Dehydration of MgCl2
  • Aluminum spent pot lining treatment
  • Titanium powder production
EXOTIC METALS AND COMPOUNDS
A significant number of KPM's projects have involved various types of uncommon metals. KPM is accustomed to taking on projects that deal with uncommon metals, compounds and products. Some examples of projects are:
  • Antimony (Sb) concentrate treatment
  • Thermal upgrading of platinum group metals (PGM) concentrate
  • Mercury (Hg) sludge retorting, stability, and gas handling
  • Tellurium (Te) slag casting environmental control
  • Metal hydride stability study
  • Antimony (Sb) concentrate upgrading
  • Calcium (Ca) hydride production
  • Scandium (Sc) extraction from lateritic ore
  • Scandium (Sc) alloys preparation
  • Mercury sulphide (HgS) synthesis
  • Indium (In) and gallium (Ga) recovery from oxidized waste stream
  • Bismuth (Bi) concentrate smelting and refining
  • Rare earth metals production
  • Strontium (Sr) purification
GOLD, SILVER, PGM
KPM is experienced with laboratory scale methods for gold (Au), silver(Ag), and platinum group metals (PGM) treatment. We have all the methods for determination of optimal process flow sheets and operating conditions when treating refractory gold ore, concentrate, and tailings. KPM has also worked on upgrading PGM concentrates for base metal removal, using various methods including chlorination (Cl2) and hydrochlorination (HCl). Methods available include atmospheric and pressure leaches for precious and base metal recovery, pre-oxidation and cyanidation bottle roll tests for gold recovery, one and two-stage roasting (sulphuric and arsenic removal), and the Albion process. We have worked on a number of combined hydro/pyro flowsheets for processing a wide range of ores for clients. With autoclave capacity ranging from 1 to 20 litres, as well as a range of fluid bed and rotary reactors, KPM is well equipped to optimize gold extraction from complex refractory ores. KPM is also able to support all hydrometallurgical test work with a full range of analytical (Fire Assays, AAS, ICP-OES, ISE, etc.) and microscopy (optical, SEM-EDS, MLA, QEMSCAN) services.
SECONDARY MATERIALS
KPM works on a number of projects related to recycling metals and treating secondary materials. Projects include the treatment of base metal production slag for further metal recovery, recycling and treatment of by-products from base metal production, recycling of light metals, and removal/neutralization of toxic elements from hazardous waste. Often, the work is combined with a techno-economic analysis to ensure that the process being developed is economically justified. Example of projects include:
  • Zinc slag fuming
  • Stabilization of aluminum spent pot lining
  • Recycling of magnesium metal
  • Electric arc furnace dust treatment
  • Treatment of aluminum salt cake waste
  • Indium and gallium recovery from oxidized waste stream
  • Magnesium dross cleaning
  • Cryolite treatment and recovery from aluminum smelter operation
  • Mercury and arsenic compound stabilization
PROCESSES FLOTATION AND MINERAL PROCESSING
In recent years, KPM developed additional capabilities in the field of mineral processing. We can now offer to our clients a full range of services, including grinding, comminution, flotation, magnetic and gravity separation, and complete mineralogical studies (XRD, optical microscopy, QEM-Scan, etc.). We have access to Denver cells, mini-pilot integrated flotation capabilities, rougher/scavenger circuit simulation with regrind/cleaner, locked cycle testing, etc. We deliver affordable industrial development work with strong fundamentals at a range of scales. Example of recent projects include:
  • Base Metal Flotation
  • Application of Mineral Processing Method to Metal Recycling
  • Concept of High Pace Ore Sorting
  • Magnetic Impurity Removal from Aluminum Stream
  • Review of Energy Saving in Material Processing
  • Copper Slag Slow Cooling and Flotation
  • Heavy Liquid Separation of Segregated Iron Ore
LEACHING AND HYDROMETALLURGY
KPM runs bench-top scale and small pilot size tests for a wide range of hydrometallurgical processes including conventional and column leaching, solvent extraction, ion exchange, solution purification (e.g. iron control), electrorefining and electrowinning.
Methods available include atmospheric and pressure leaches for precious and base metals recovery, pre-oxidation and cyanidation bottle roll tests for gold recovery, one and two-stage roasting (sulphuric and arsenic removal), and the Albion process. SX-EW processes can be tested from the ore leaching to the metal production. We have worked on a number of combined hydro/pyro flowsheets for processing a wide range of ores for clients. With autoclave capacity ranging from 1 to 20 litres, as well as a range of fluid bed and rotary reactors, KPM is well equipped to optimize gold extraction from complex refractory ores or tailing re-treatment. KPM is also able to support all hydrometallurgical test work with a full range of analytical (Fire Assays, AAS, ICP-OES, ISE, etc.) and microscopy (optical, SEM-EDS, MLA, QEMSCAN) services. Examples of projects include:
  • Refractory Gold Ore Diagnostic Leach
  • Kinetic Cyanidation
  • Copper Oxide Ore Colum Leach
  • Arsenic Residue Stabilization
  • High Purity Copper Double-Electrorefining
  • H2S Production from Bio-Waste
  • Base Metal Leaching and IX Trials
  • Various Immersion Corrosion Tests
  • Control of Cadmium in Nickel Electrolytes
  • Brine Leach Applications
  • Manganese Recovery SX/IX Trade-Off Study
ROASTING
During roasting, a concentrate, ore, or secondary material is reacted with a gas at high temperature to remove impurities or effect a transformation. Common roasting operations include sulphur removal and oxidation. Roasting reactors usually are kilns and fluid beds, but other type of reactors can be used (rotary hearth, recirculating bed, etc.). KPM has a range of available reactors (static, rotary, or fluid bed) which can be used with exposure to diverse environments to test reactions, reproducing industrial operation. When required, our equipment can be modified in-house or new reactor built and commissioned on site. Samples of work involving roasting and calcination are:
  • Zinc slag fuming
  • Base metal sulfide ore roasting
  • Refractory gold ore and concentrate roasting
  • Treatment of enargite for arsenic stabilization
  • Limestone calcination
SMELTING
Smelting is a common operation in base metal extraction from sulphide ore, used to separate the metals from the host rock. It requires an understanding of reduction kinetics and slag chemistry. The equilibrium between the phases involved (slag, matte, and metal) can be modeled using thermochemical database (FACTSage), allowing to plan experimental work to understand industrial operations or to validate the smelting conditions of new ore. A number of projects have been performed at KPM in smelting of copper, nickel, ferro-nickel, iron, and lead, with a focus on slag chemistry, property measurements, reaction kinetics, impurity deportment, and arsenic control. Sample projects include:
  • Reduction of SO2 generation during nickel smelting
  • Reaction mechanisms during reduction of saprolite
  • Optimization of copper slag cooling circuit
  • Liquidus determination of nickel slags
REFINING
KPM has been involved in a range of projects related to metal refining using pyrometallurgical, electrochemical, and hydrometallurgical methods. This can involve base metals (copper, lead, zinc, nickel), light metals (aluminum, magnesium, titanium, sodium, lithium), or precious metals (gold, silver, PGM). Examples of projects include:
  • Lead drossing and de-tinning
  • Aluminum de-magging
  • Copper double-electrorefining
  • Nickel pregnant solutions purification and electrowinning
MOLTEN SALT ELECTROLYSIS

KPM has extensive experience in molten salt electrochemistry and molten salt processing, and maintains one of the most active molten salt laboratories for commercial metal production in the world. KPM molten salt electrochemistry work includes potentiostatic tests to observe the behaviour of anode and cathode materials and impurities in the salts. Potentiostatic tests can be used to improve existing electrolysis reactions, monitor corrosion reactions of metal samples, material characterization, and for the selection of appropriate molten salt electrolyte composition and additives to be used in industrial applications.

KPM has developed methods to quantify anode wear in electrolytic systems using surface profilometry to study electrodes after 24 hour electrolysis. As well, electrolysis tests can be done using visual cells to see through the molten salt and observe metal formation at the cathode and gas evolution at the anode. Material compatibility tests (refractory corrosion) in molten salts are done in custom apparatus.
We use molten salt electrolysis and molten salt processing for projects like:

  • Aluminum chloride (AlCl3) production and aluminum (Al) electrolysis
  • Inert anodes fabrication and testing for aluminum (Al) production
  • Improvements to Al electrolysis efficiency
  • Magnesium chloride (MgCl2) production and magnesium (Mg) electrolysis
  • Lithium chloride (LiCl) production and lithium (Li) electrolysis
  • Improvements to sodium (Na) electrolysis
  • Titanium (Ti) and titanium powder production
  • Molten salt energy storage technologies
  • Rare earth metals production
  • Electrode properties and selection for molten salt electrolysis applications
  • Optimization of electrolyte composition for light metals production
  • Role of impurities during light metals electrolysis
  • Cell sludge formation and impact on operation
  • Reduction and control of air emissions from light metals electrolysis
  • Corrosion test of refractories in Al, Li, and Na molten salt electrolytes
CHLORINATION AND HYDROCHLORINATION

KPM is recognized world-wide for its performance of projects using chlorine (Cl2) and hydrogen chloride (HCl) for a range of applications and new processes development. We have in-line distribution of Cl2 and HCl throughout our laboratories, with associated gas detectors and laboratory procedures to ensure safe use and delivery. Chlorination (Cl2), hydrochlorination (HCl), and carbochlorination projects are performed routinely at KPM.
Examples of projects include:

  • Titanium oxides carbochlorination for TiCl4 production
  • Chlorination and carbochlorination of various oxide ores
  • Selective hydrochlorination of PGM concentrate
  • Purification of graphite by carbochlorination
  • Upgrading of ores by chlorination
  • Production of aluminum chloride (AlCl3) by carbochlorination
OTHER REACTIVE GAS PROCESSING
KPM performs projects using a variety of reactive gases, including CO, H2S, H2, CH4, Cl2 and HCl, all of which require safe delivery, handling, and treatment. Examples of projects include:
  • Graphite purification
  • Coke desulphurization
  • Hydrogen reduction of chloride gas species
  • Metal hydride stability study
  • H2S conversion of chloride salts
  • Variety of controlled atmosphere thermal treatment
PURIFICATION AND UPGRADING

KPM has done extensive work in purification of metals and upgrading of ores. This work ranges over many types of feeds, using a variety of methods, including:

  • High purity graphite production
  • Petroleum coke treatment
  • Lead purification circuit improvements
  • Chemical upgrading of PGM concentrate
  • Aluminum demagging
  • Production of ultra-high purity copper (6N5) and nickel (5N)
  • Magnesium dross cleaning
  • Aluminum salt cake recycling
  • Cryolite treatment and recovery
  • Iron ore and copper oxide ore upgrading by segregation
  • Antimony (Sb) concentrate upgrading
  • Spodumene ore upgrading
  • Aluminum spent pot lining upgrading
  • Copper slag slow cooling
AQUEOUS ELECTROCHEMISTRY

KPM has experience with commercial use of electrowinning and electrorefining for the production of a variety of metals and compounds, including copper, nickel, tellurium, and silver. Methods for the production of high purity base metals (> 5N nickel and > 6N copper) through careful control of secondary electrolytic refining were developed. Aqueous electrochemistry is also used for potentiometric evaluation of the corrosion of various metals, alloys, and compounds in a range of media.

SYNTHESIS OF SPECIALTY PRODUCTS AND COMPOUNDS

KPM performs inorganic synthesis of a variety of products and compounds, both in experimental work and process flow sheet development. Often these involve small volumes which require special consideration to produce economically viable processes. Some examples of this type of work includes:

  • Calcium hydride production
  • Scandium alloys preparation
  • Mercury sulphide synthesis
  • Lithium compounds development
  • MgO extraction and synthesis from process residues
  • Master alloys preparation
RECYCLING AND NOVEL PROCESSES

New process development is a significant component of work at KPM. We have worked on a wide range of novel projects on contractual basis, many of which are on-going and confidential. However, we also work on in-house projects and have developed a number of technologies that could be commercialized with the right industrial partner.
Examples of novel process development work include:

  • Production of hydrogen from H2S
  • Dehydration of MgCl2
  • H2 storage and delivery for fuel cell applications
  • Spent pot lining treatment
  • Cermet development and testing for molten salt electrolysis
  • Sulfur injection in ferro-nickel production
  • Aluminum demagging
  • Titanium powder production
  • Production of ultra-high purity copper (6N5)and nickel (5N)
  • Inert anodes for aluminum production
  • Direct coal fuel cell reactor