Pure Minerals takes step towards Townsville processing facility

CSIRO pilot plant at Minerals Research Centre in Western Australia. Image: Pure Minerals

Pure Minerals’ newly-acquired Queensland Pacific Metals (QPM) has obtained permission to use Direct Nickel Projects (DNP)’s nickel and cobalt processing method.

QPM will apply the DNi process, with the assistance of CSIRO, at its proposed nickel-cobalt processing facility in Townsville in north Queensland.

The method will be used to extract nickel sulphate and cobalt sulphate for the emerging electric vehicles battery market.

CSIRO will assist in upgrading the product to meet purity requirements for battery grade nickel and cobalt sulphate, following its success with over 19 campaigns as well as in treating a range of ore types and blends from Indonesia and Brazil.

With the technology, QPM anticipates a production of around 25,000 tonnes per year (t/y) nickel sulphate and 3000t/y cobalt sulphate a year.

Feasibility studies will first be conducted on 600,000 wet metric tonnes (wmt) per annum processing plant.

QPM director John Downie said, “The DNi process will assist us in reducing the amount of capital required compared with traditional nickel high pressure acid leach (HPAL) operations.”

Simplified schematic of the DNi process. Source: Pure Minerals

 

The oft-used HPAL requires lots of sulphuric acid as well as producing significant amount of waste.

In turn, DNP will get a percentage of revenue earned by QPM, determined by the underlying commodity prices of nickel and cobalt.

DNP chairman Andrew Vickerman said, “We welcome the opportunity to work together with QPM on the use of the DNi process in a new plant in Queensland.

“The DNi process provides a lower cost and more environmentally sympathetic route for the production of nickel and cobalt for the expanding battery market.”

The technology has a tailings footprint around one-third of that of a HPAL plant of equal capacity. It is also able to extract remaining nickel, cobalt and other co-products from tailings.

QPM has obtained and imported high-grade ore samples from its supply partners in New Caledonia, hence it paid no royalty payment to the Queensland Government.

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