In a bid to become a cobalt and nickel producer, Pure Minerals (ASX: PM1) announced its future subsidiary Queensland Pacific Metals Pty Ltd has secured an agreement to use Direct Nickel Projects’ proprietary processing technology.
Direct Nickel has developed the DNi Process which uses nitric acid to digest minerals found in laterite ore.
The process is undertaken at atmospheric pressure and the nitric acid is also recycled.
Current commercial processing of nickel laterite ore involves high pressure acid leach but the method requires a higher capital expenditure as well as consuming “significant amounts of sulphuric acid” to generate large waste.
According to Pure Minerals, Direct Nickel’s process offers the potential for lower capital and operating costs, as well as a reduced tailings footprint, while extracting a number of acid-soluble minerals.
Under the framework agreement between Queensland Pacific and Direct Nickel, Queensland Pacific will use the DNi process to extract nickel and cobalt from ore imported from New Caledonian-based producers.
The duo has agreed to the basic commercial terms for Queensland Pacific to license Direct Nickel’s process, which remains subject to definitive contract. The duo will also collaborate on feasibility studies to deliver Queensland Pacific’s proposed processing plant.
Queensland Pacific hopes to sell the ore into the emerging battery market.
Additionally, Queensland Pacific will evaluate opportunities using DNi to generate other valuable co-products from the ore including iron, magnesium, scandium and alumina.
Queensland Pacific acquisition
Pure Minerals reported last week that it had agreed to acquire 100% of Queensland Pacific, as part of its strategy to secure a foothold in the battery metals sector.
Under a binding option agreement, Pure Minerals paid a $75,000 deposit to carry out due diligence on the acquisition.
Queensland Pacific has secured ore supply contracts with New Caledonia-based Societe des Mines de la Tontouta and Societe Miniere Georges Montagnat SARL.
The contracts pave the way for Queensland Pacific to source 600,000 tonnes per annum of nickel and cobalt ore from the New Caledonian companies’ operations.
To process the ore, Queensland Pacific plans to build a 600,000tpa process plant in Townsville, which it expects will generate 25,000tpa nickel sulphate and 3,000tpa of cobalt sulphate.
Townsville has a “long history” of processing New Caledonian ore and hosts all the necessary infrastructure, as well as skilled labour and engineering support.