Metal Recovery

The mining and mineral processing industries use a range of processes to recover and concentrate metals from leached solutions and slurries. Ion exchange is a common hydrometallurgical processes used, and is well suited for recovery of low to moderate concentration targets from complex liquors.

During ion exchange, metal ions are adsorbed from the pregnant solution onto the ion exchange resin, and a product solution is created when the resin is desorbed. Traditional batch or fixed bed ion exchange often produces a low quality metal solution product that requires downstream purification and concentration, with low ion exchange efficiency and high reagent consumption. Clean TeQ Water’s metal recovery technology aims to overcome these challenges, producing a high quality solution that can be readily converted into saleable products.

Metal ions can end up in effluent streams/raffinates, and be present in acid mine drainage, pit water, and a range of mining or industrial wastewaters. These often exist in concentrations too low for economical recovery using conventional technologies. Clean TeQ Water’s metal recovery technology can be used to reduce the pay-back period of scavenging circuits, providing extra revenue from dilute sources.

Metal Recovery Using CLEAN-IX®

Clean TeQ’s CLEAN-IX® continuous ion exchange process provides highly efficient extraction and purification for a range of valuable and strategic metals from slurries and solutions.

The base technology for the CLEAN-IX® process was developed by the All Russian Research Institute of Chemical Technology (ARRICT) over a period of 40 years. Clean TeQ has subsequently developed this technology for the recovery of strategic metals from ores and tailings where conventional routes are either economically marginal or pose an unacceptable environmental burden.

CLEAN-IX® is a combination of continuous ion exchange and counter-current ion exchange, where the resin and slurry/solution are continuously moved around the system, and are directly contacted in countercurrent to each other. This achieves an extraction rate of typically more than 98% of the contained metal in the solution, and provides an economical method for recovery and concentration of dilute streams.

CLEAN-IX® covers the complete spectrum of leach systems (both acid and alkaline), using:

  • Continuous Resin-In-Column (CLX) for clarified leach solutions (<4% solids)
  • Continuous Resin-In-Pulp (CRIP) and Resin-in-Leach (CRIL) for slurries (4-50% solids)
  • Continuous Elution (U-Column) for metal elution and purification.


CLEAN-IX® CLX Example Layout

Advantages of CLEAN-IX®

CLEAN-IX® provides the following benefits for metal recovery and elution/purification:

  • High metal recovery efficiency
  • Low reagent use
  • High product purity, reducing the size of downstream purification
  • Lower capital and operating costs
  • Smaller resin inventories
  • High solids tolerance and less processing steps
  • Easy operation and low maintenance
  • High turn down ratios

Recoverable Metals

By carefully selecting the resin used as part of CLEAN-IX® continuous ion exchange, a range of different metals can be recovered, including those highlighted in the periodic table below.

periodic table
Precious MetalsPlatinum Group MetalsBase MetalsRare Earth ElementsSpecialty Metals
Light (LRE)
Medium (MRE)
Heavy (HRE)

Sunrise Project

Clean TeQ’s Sunrise Project is an approved mine at one of the world’s largest deposits of high grade nickel, cobalt and scandium. The project is driven by a global demand for battery-grade cobalt and nickel sulphates, and an emerging market for scandium oxide for use in the automotive and aerospace industries.

Clean TeQ Sunrise will use CLEAN-IX® technology to achieve efficient metal recovery from the nickel laterite ore. The technology vastly reduces the amount of processing steps, creating a more economical, competitive and marketable product. Clean TeQ has been developing the nickel, cobalt and scandium CRIP process since 2001, including three large-scale piloting operations on laterite ore.

The ore will be crushed, beneficiated and thickened prior to entering the pressure acid leaching (PAL) circuit, where nickel, cobalt and scandium are extracted from the ore into a leached solution. This then enters Clean TeQ’s patented CLEAN-IX® CRIP technology, where nickel and cobalt are selectively extracted at a high rate of recovery (>99%) into a concentrated solution. Scandium oxide will be produced as a by-product, which will be extracted from the nickel cobalt eluate using CLEAN-IX® CLX technology.

Visit the Clean TeQ Sunrise website for more information about the project.


The Clean TeQ Sunrise pilot plant video provides an overview of the processing steps which will be used, including Clean TeQ’s CLEAN-IX® CRIP and U-Column technologies.

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To find out more about Clean TeQ’s metal recovery capabilities, or to discuss your metal recovery challenges please:

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