Ardea Resources (ASX: ARL) has generated battery-grade cobalt and nickel sulphate crystals during a pilot plant trial on its ore from the Goongarrie nickel-cobalt project near Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.
The pilot trial used a refined flowsheet on the Goongarrie mineralisation which was an optimised version of the flowsheet developed in the pre-feasibility study.
Using the refined flowsheet, leaching extracted more than 95% nickel and cobalt from Goongarrie samples during a continuous pilot.
The test was part of a definitive feasibility study, which is underway at the project.
“The pilot plant trial has demonstrated that a high-quality product can be produced from the ore at Goongarrie and this will be critical during our current search for a strategic partner and potential offtakers,” Area executive chair Katina Law said.
Ms Law added samples would now be sent to interested offtake parties for evaluation.
Goongarrie nickel-cobalt project
Goongarrie is part of Ardea’s wholly-owned Kalgoorlie nickel project (KNP) which, according to the company, hosts the “largest cobalt resource in the developed world”.
A pre-feasibility study on Goongarrie was completed in March this year and revealed a base-case 1 million tonne per annum operation over 25-years.
The study indicated about 5,500tpa of cobalt sulphate and 41,500tpa of nickel sulphate could be generated.
Capital costs were estimated at $599 million, with payback of 5.3 years on annual earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of $210 million.
Meanwhile, an expansion study based on a 2.25Mtpa operation was published in July and revealed production of about 10,000tpa of cobalt sulphate and 81,000tpa of nickel sulphate.
This study indicated capital costs of $1.165 billion to generate EBIDTA of $450 million. Payback period was forecast at 5.1 years in this scenario.
Studies are underpinned by the Goongarrie mineral resource which contains 1.5Mt of nickel and 130,700t of cobalt.
An updated resource is due before the end of the year.
Ardea is also actively seeking a strategic partner to develop the project and engaged corporate advisory firm KPMG in June to assist in its search.
In its September quarter 2018 report, Ardea stated the process was “well-advanced” and the company had experienced a high level of corporate and end-user interest.