CNA Nickel

Real-time quality control for the nickel ore mining industry

The CNA Nickel is the fourth generation of the world’s most advanced on-line elemental analyzer, based on the Pulsed Fast and Thermal Neutron Activation PFTNA technology. Nickel mining and extraction operations will benefit from control of quality and moisture of the ore before shipping to and arrival at the treatment plant, enabling sorting of material on nickel content and optimizing the homogenization of the stockpile. 


Added value

  • On-off electric neutron source
  • Control of nickel grade and moisture
  • Value optimization at nickel ore mining operation
  • Long lifetime tube
  • Modular design minimizes downtime during installation

Unique and proven PFTNA

Using high energy neutrons to determine the chemistry of materials is very useful for process control because the analysis is done instantaneously, allowing many control changes over short periods of time to achieve the target chemistry. The analysis is very representative since all the material on a belt from top-to-bottom and side-to-side is being analyzed. 




Installation of a CNA in the mining operation (before and/or after shipment to the treatment plant) enables control of the nickel grade and moisture which allows for sorting and optimizing the stockpile and shipment, delivering value to both sender and receiver.


A CNA installed after dryer operation enables control of the nickel grade, the Fe/Ni ratio and the basicity index (MgO/SiO2) of the material entering calciners. It is possible to adjust silica, iron or carbon additives to prevent corrosion of the furnace lining. By determining the moisture content, the CNA-Nickel allows for optimization of the dryer parameters in the pyrometallurgical process resulting in significant energy savings during the calcine process.

Nickel, from sulfide nickel ores, is extracted by a process where the nickel sulfide mineral is freed from gangue by crushing and grinding, after which it is separated by flotation and finally smelted or roasted. Extraction of nickel from the laterite ores is carried out either by pyrometallurgical (for saprolite) or hydrometallurgical (for limonite) process.

Malvern Panalytical and Sodern have extensive experience in the analysis of lateritic nickel ores in New Caledonia and more precisely of silicate (or saprolite) type of lateritic nickel ores. However, the CNA-Nickel can be used for sulfide nickel ores as well.

Cost-saving opportunities

  • Value optimization at nickel ore mining operation
  • Energy savings by moisture control
  • Prevention of corrosion damage to the kiln
  • Manpower and maintenance savings by removal of the sampling tower.