Molybdenum is one of significant refractory metals used as an alloying agent in cast iron, steel and super alloys and in numerous chemical applications including catalysts, lubricants and pigments. Due to its increasing demand of molybdenum and rapid depletion of its land based ores, there is a growing need to find alternate sources to meet the future demands. Manganese nodule contains about 0.05% molybdenum and is one of candidates. Separation and recovery of molybdenum was carried out from the sea nodule leach liquor containing 0.505 kg/m3 Mo(VI), 0.212 kg/m3 Fe(III),12.08 kg/m3 Cu(II), 2.012 kg/m3 Co(II) and 15.16 kg/m3 Ni(II). The recovery process was carried out in two key steps such as:

  • Solvent extraction of Mo(VI) using Alamine 304-1 dissolved in kerosene of leach liquor and stripping, and

  • Preparation of MoO3 by crystallization and thermal decomposition of stripped solution.

By this process, MoO3 with purity of 99.4% can be obtained.


There is an extensive demand of pure molybdenum in the industrial applications like the production of ferro-molybdenum in special steel making process. The major use of molybdenum is in the petrochemical refining processes, where it is used as a catalyst. Due to the growing need of such metals with high purity and the rapid depletion of land based ores, that has necessitated for exploitation of alternate sources to meet the future demand. Vast oceans are such primary sources which claimed to have major constituents like manganese (27–30 %), nickel (1.25–1.5 %), copper (1–1.4 %) and cobalt (0.2–0.25 %), along with a minor content of molybdenum (∼0.05%) (Fuerstuenau and Han, 1977). Over last three decades lots of efforts has been put forward to develop a successful flow sheet by pyrometallurgical, hydrometallurgical or pyro-hydrometllurgical route to recover the metal values from manganese nodules (Fuerstuenau and Han, 1983).

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