Metal Recovery

The mining industry uses a range of processes to recover metals from leached solutions and slurries. Ion exchange is one method which can extract metal ions from solution and slurries, where metal ions are adsorbed onto the ion exchange resin. The resin is desorbed during the elution process to create a concentrated product solution that can be treated further into a solid product.

During processing, metal ions can also end up in wastewater in evaporation ponds or tailings dams. In a lot of cases, the concentration of metal ions is too low for recovery to be economical using conventional technologies. However, as regulations evolve and become stricter, more water containing metal ions is being treated and metal recovery is becoming more attractive.

Our Technologies

Clean TeQ Water’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. Since 1951, ARRICT has been involved in the development of over 30 mining operations using the technology, mainly for uranium and gold extraction, from leached slurries and solutions.

In 2000, Clean TeQ obtained the exclusive licence for all technical information relating to ion exchange resin, ionic membranes, organic solvent extractants, including manufacturing know-how and plant design, for all countries outside the former Soviet Union. Since obtaining the licence, Clean TeQ has further developed the technology for base metals, uranium and gold, with particular improvements in relation to laterite ore processing, scandium and uranium. Clean TeQ has been granted ten additional patents on various aspects of the technology, including one for extraction and purification of scandium.

The resin used in the continuous ion exchange process can usually be selected to directly target the desired metal ions, adsorbing them onto the resin which is then treated further for recovery. 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), and Continuous Elution (U-Column) for metal elution and purification.

The technology allows for optimised resin inventories, up to 25% less than fixed or batch systems, is simple to operate and maintain, has high turn down ratios to allow for fluctuations in feed grade and operations, and reduces the amount of processing steps, leading to more economical metal recovery.

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 the 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® continuous resin in pulp process, 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® resin in column (CLX) technology.

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

Find Out More

Contact us to discuss your metal recovery needs.