NicAL IAPP Project

The NicAL project is a long-term collaboration between the Natural History Museum and SME Çaldağ Nikel in Turkey. The project aims to address the key industrial problems associated with nickel processing.

Completed in October 2012, the NicAL EU Marie Curie IAPP (Industry-Academia Partnership and Pathways) project used atmospheric heap leaching (AHL) to address nickel laterite processing problems.

It aimed to enable more cost-effective extraction of European sources of nickel, and to significantly reduce the environmental impact of nickel production. 

Future scientific and technical objectives
  • Develop criteria for the identification of oxide-rich nickel laterite suitable for industrial application of new low-cost AHL technologies. 
  • Modify the AHL process already under development to cope with the processing of the problematic mineralogical features of lateritic resources. 
  • Global Nickel resources and production.
    Mining nickel from laterites

    Addressing the disparity between global nickel production from laterites and resource availability.

  • The distribution of major nickel laterite deposits.
    Atmospheric heap leaching

    The Atmospheric heat leaching (AHL) technique was successful in the case of Çaldağ (Oxley et al. 2006), and could be applied to many other undeveloped goethitic laterite deposits worldwide.


Tavlan, M., Thorne, R. and Herrington, R.J., 2011. Journal of the Geological Society of London, 168; 927-940.

Thorne, R., Herrington, R. and Roberts, S., 2009. Mineralium Deposita, 44, 581-595.


Smectitic ores contain nickel-bearing nontronite and saponite clay minerals, where nickel may be located between structural layers.