The resulting solutions from the leaching of caliche ore plant in Pedro de Valdivia, Maria Elena, Nueva Victoria and Pampa Blanca are used to produce Iodine, iodate content from them. Variations in the content of iodine and other chemicals components in the ore treated, and other operational parameters, require a high level of expertise to manage the process efficiently.
The solutions of the leaching of caliche contain iodine in form of iodate. Part of the iodate in the solution is reduced to iodide using sulfur dioxide, which is produced by burning sulfur. The resulting iodide is combined with the rest of the original solution of iodate to liberate elemental iodine. Then the solid iodine is refined through a casting and prilling process. SQM has obtained patents in Chile and the United States for prilling process of iodine.