Kola Mining and Metallurgical Company (subsidiary of MMC Norilsk Nickel) produced the first electrolytic cobalt as part of in the implementation of strategic Cobalt production investment project. Thus, Kola MMC commissioned the only Russian industrial production of high-grade electrolytic cobalt, high-quality and globally competitive product.
Until recently, cobalt concentrate was the main cobalt product produced by nickel electrolysis shop of Kola MMC. This intermediate product was sent to other plants for further processing into commercial cobalt products having wide application in various industries.
The company began the development of technology of commodity cobalt production in the late 90s. For the development of new technologies in 2000 a pilot plant was built, which resulted in the development of extraction-electrolysis technology of production of high-quality electrolytic cobalt. Since 2007, extraction pilot plant produced electrolytic cobalt using one of the most advanced technologies available today.
In 2009 specialists of Gipronickel Institute made calculations that have proven economic viability of in-house cobalt production of MMC Norilsk Nickel based at Monchegorsk industrial site of Kola MMC. The efficiency of the technical and technological solutions the project is based upon has been confirmed by stable operation of cobalt extraction section of nickel electrolysis shop. The project entered its practical stage in 2011.
Since that time, extensive work on reconstruction of several process stages: two-staged cobalt removal unit and hydrometallurgical section № 2 was performed, new technological process stages were built: extraction and electrolysis units, hydrochloric acid storage, as well as external networks and overpasses and auxiliary facilities. All works were carried out without interrupting existing production.
Process flow sheet for production of high grade cobalt involves already available equipment of the Company and brand new equipment manufactured by Russian and international manufacturers such as ERG (Air Pollution Control) Ltd, Darley, Flottweg, EBNER, Roskomstroy.
“The development of all Norilsk Nickel’s sites is moving in accordance with a unified strategy for a large company. It is mainly focused on Tier 1 assets, as well as on ‘disciplined’ approach to investment management, said Igor Ryshkel, General Director of JSC Kola MMC. Cobalt production is just one of those investment projects that are designed to improve the economic efficiency of the company”.
Cobalt production project is characterized by high technical and economic indicators. According to estimates, capital investment (and investments in the project amounted to more than RUB 2 bln.) should pay off within the short term due to additional profits earned by reducing operating costs and adding value to marketable products, which can be used in the open sector (batteries, catalysts, magnets, etc.) and in aerospace and defense industry.