Independence Group (IGO) has advanced its pre-feasibility study on its downstream nickel-cobalt extraction process, which involves hydrometallurgy of nickel sulphide concentrate in lieu of conventional smelting and refining methods.
IGO’s four-stage process would unlock higher prices than traditionally received from raw nickel-cobalt sulphide concentrate offtake agreements and directly link IGO to the energy storage supply chain.
The process is designed to optimise nickel sulphate production directly from concentrate without the need to first produce intermediary or refined nickel products.
It has resulted in extraction rates exceeding 97 per cent for both nickel and cobalt metal contained in the nickel-cobalt sulphide concentrate feed. This is sourced from IGO’s Nova nickel-copper-cobalt project in the Fraser Range in Western Australia.
“IGO has embraced this transformation to strategically focus on nickel and other metals critical to clean energy, with an interest in both upstream and downstream opportunities,” said IGO managing director Peter Bradford.
“Upstream, we have expanded our generative and greenfields exploration to drive the discovery of new nickel and copper projects – to provide the nickel and copper the world needs.”
The extraction process is intended to allow IGO capitalise on the need for nickel sulphate in high-density, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for the growing electric vehicle (EV) and energy storage markets.
A scoping study by IGO last year suggested the cobalt extraction process was not only financially feasible, but could maximise recovery rates and be more environmentally sustainable than traditional methods as well.