IGO scraps downstream plant for BHP, Trafigura offtakes

Lithium-ion batteries utilising nickel sulphate generated from The IGO Process. Image: IGO

Independent Group (IGO) has identified value-maximising opportunities for the Nova operation in Western Australia, causing it to abandon a feasibility study on a downstream nickel sulphate facility.

The returns on this project are unlikely to meet IGO’s investment hurdles for constructing such a facility in Western Australia, according to managing director Peter Bradford.

IGO has replaced the plan with the development of a new process that produces battery-quality nickel sulphate from nickel sulphide concentrate, called The IGO Process.

The company has completed its pre-feasibility study, which shows The IGO Process as a technologically advanced and cost competitive process for converting nickel sulphide concentrate directly to nickel sulphate.

IGO is also finalising nickel concentrate agreements for Nova’s nickel concentrate, which will be distributed in equal volumes to BHP Billiton Nickel West (five-year term) and Trafigura (three-year term).

The company also plans to award 100 per cent of Nova’s copper concentrate to Trafigura for a three-year term.

IGO stated it had achieved improved commercial terms with these agreements. They will replace IGO’s existing offtake agreements with Glencore and BHP, both of which are due to expire within less than a year.

“It is pleasing to have brought these two workstreams to completion, and to have achieved the material improvement in commercial terms for our new offtake agreements,” Bradford said.

“The tightening supply and strong demand forecast for nickel and copper has led to strong competition for Nova concentrate, which is now established as a high quality, highly desirable product for end users.”

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