Emerging battery metals producer Australian Mines (ASX: AUZ) is this week scheduled to export the largest sample of battery-grade cobalt and nickel sulphate ever recorded from Australian mined and processed ore.
The company will send 40kg of nickel sulphate and 4 kilograms of cobalt sulphate samples sourced from its wholly-owned Sconi cobalt-nickel-scandium project in northern Queensland, to Korean-based offtake partner SK Innovation for use at its electric vehicle manufacturing plants.
The shipment ore was transported from Queensland to Australian Mines’ demonstration-sized plant in Western Australia for trial processing via high-pressure acid leach and solvent extraction.
Currently the largest test plant of its kind in Australia, it produced samples containing over 98% purity for cobalt sulphate and 99% purity for nickel sulphate, without the use of third-party commercial laboratories and exceeding SK Innovation’s specifications for EV feed materials.
Exclusive offtake agreement secured
The binding off-take term sheet agreement with SK Innovation secured in February will see Australian Mines become the sole supplier of cobalt to the Korean firm.
Under the terms of the agreement and following a ramp-up period, SK Innovation will accept up to 12,000 tonnes of cobalt sulphate and up to 60,000t of nickel sulphate per year from the flagship Sconi project for an initial seven year period, with the option of a six-year extension.
In addition to the offtake deal, SK Innovation agreed to assist Australian Mines to optimise the Sconi bankable feasibility study and help with enhancing the proposed processing plant and mining operation through sample validation.
SK Innovation is a global lithium-ion battery manufacturer for the electric vehicle market.
With Mercedes Benz and its range of electric and hybrid-electric vehicles listed as a major customer.
The Sconi project is situated about 250 kilometres from Townsville and is close to port, roads, electricity, housing, a skilled workforce, water and telecommunications infrastructure.
Sconi has a current resource of 89 million tonnes grading 0.06% cobalt and 0.58% nickel, but is targeting average feed grades of 0.11% cobalt and 0.80% nickel.