Phytomining technology cultivates hyperaccumulator plants on heavy metal contaminated soils, followed by biomass harvesting and incineration to recover valuable metals, offering an opportunity for resource recycling and soil remediation. Large areas of ultramafic soils, naturally rich in nickel (Ni), are present in numerous places around the world. As an environmentally friendly and cost-effective soil remediation technology, phytomining has a broad application prospect in such areas and thus has attracted great attention from global researchers. The key processes of phytomining include: (1) high-selectivity response of hyperaccumulator plants to Ni the underlying mechanisms involved in the rhizosphere; (2) underlying mechanisms of high-efficiency uptake and translocation of Ni in hyperaccumulators; and (3) resource recycling of high-added value Ni products from the Ni-rich bio-ore of hyperaccumulators. In recent 30 years, phytomining practices have successfully carried out in United States, Albania and Malaysia. However, the research and application of this technology in China are still in the fledging stage. This paper reviews the key processes and research progress of phytomining, and points out the bottleneck, to provide theoretical basis and technical guidance for phytomining.