Australian Mines moves $1.3bn Sconi project to next step

Trial mining at Sconi. Image: Australian Mines

Australian Mines has released its bankable feasibility study (BFS) for the Sconi cobalt-nickel-scandium project in North Queensland, revealing a capital requirement of $US974 million ($1.35 billion).

The Sconi project will require the development of three open pits for $US31 million, and a two million tonnes per year (Mt/y) processing plant for $US730 million.

However, the company is confident of strong annual revenues ($512 million) over a mine life of 18 years.

Sconi will create up to 500 jobs during construction between 2019 and 2021, and an additional 300 full-time positions once reaching steady-state operation.

Australian Mines managing director Benjamin Bell said the Sconi project showed “a genuine near-term development prospect” amidst increasing demand for commodities essential for the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles (EVs).

“Demand for procuring potential future production from the Sconi project has been high from multiple battery manufacturers and intermediate companies,” Bell said.

Australian Mines signed an offtake agreement in February with one of South Korea’s largest companies, SK Innovation, for 100 per cent of the cobalt and nickel produced at Sconi over an initial seven-year agreement.

The commodities will be used to supply SK Innovation’s EV battery manufacturing plants globally, including Volkswagen Group’s EV production in Europe.

Scandium, as the plant’s by-product, will also be developed to meet its growing application in alloys used in the automotive and aerospace industries.

The Sconi project was acquired for $10 million from joint venture partner Metallica Minerals in September 2017.

“Our acquisition timing proved spot-on and now, two years later, we believe the project is well on track to move to the next stage in project funding negotiations,” Bell said.