Nickel-cobalt (Ni-Co)

* Nickel-cobalt (Ni-Co) laterite deposits are supergene enrichments of Ni±Co that form from intense chemical and mechanical weathering of ultramafic parent rocks. These regolith deposits typically form within 26 degrees of the equator, although there are a few exceptions.

USGS Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5070-H: Nickel-Cobalt  Laterites—A Deposit Model


Three subtypes of Ni-Co laterite deposits are classified according to the dominant Ni-bearing mineralogy, which include hydrous magnesium (Mg)-silicate, smectite, and oxide.

There is evidence that the production of Ni and Co from laterites is more energy intensive than that of sulfide ores, reflecting the environmental impact of producing a Ni-Co laterite deposit. Tailings may include high levels of magnesium, sulfate, and manganese and have the potential to be physically unstable.

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