Pure Minerals’ (ASX: PM1) future subsidiary Queensland Pacific Metals Pty Ltd has pinpointed an optimum processing flowsheet to produce battery-grade nickel and cobalt sulphate from New Caledonia ore.
The optimised flowsheet was determined after Queensland Pacific Metals engaged Australia’s top research body the CSIRO to review and evaluate several processing options for its ore using its recently licenced DNi method.
CSIRO’s review involved using the DNi process to produce a mixed hydroxide precipitate on nickel and cobalt ore imported from New Caledonia.
The organisation investigated several processing options to transform the mixed hydroxide precipitate into battery-grade nickel and cobalt sulphate.
According to Pure Minerals, the evaluation underpins Queensland Pacific Metals’ scoping study into developing a 600,000 tonne per annum processing plant in Townsville, Queensland.
“We are confident that the process flowsheet identified by CSIRO will produce battery-grade chemicals and that it also has the ability to be scaled up at a commercial level,” Queensland Pacific Metals director John Downie said.
“Establishing the optimum flowsheet is an important milestone and will allow Queensland Pacific Metals to focus specifically on this avenue as it embarks on feasibility work,” he added.
Pure Minerals said the processes and chemistry applied in the flowsheet for producing battery-grade material were “well understood”.
The company added that it was confident the CSIRO flowsheet would ensure its material met the “most demanding of battery manufacturer specification”.
CSIRO will now test the flowsheet and produce a sample of the nickel and cobalt sulphate to further confirm the process. Samples will also be given to potential offtake partners for review.
New Caledonian nickel-cobalt ore
In mid-October, Pure Minerals reported it planned to acquire 100% of Queensland Pacific Metals under a binding option agreement.
The acquisition had a 45-day due diligence period, which is scheduled to wind up at the end of this month.
If Pure Minerals proceeds with the acquisition, it is estimated to have an enterprise value of $2.7 million.
In a unique strategy, Queensland Pacific Metals has locked-in five-year ore supply agreements with New Caledonia-based Societe des Mines de la Tontouta and Societe Miniere Georges Montagnat SARL.
Queensland Pacific plans to take charge of 600,000tpa of nickel and cobalt ore from the New Caledonian producers, with the ore to possess minimum grades of 1.4% nickel and 0.15% cobalt.
It is planned that the ore will be treated at Queensland Pacific Metals’ proposed processing plant in Townsville.
According to Pure Minerals, the New Caledonian ore is among the highest-grade nickel and cobalt found in the Asia Pacific.
To process the ore, Queensland Pacific Metals is looking to use Direct Nickel Projects’ proprietary DNi technology combined with CSIRO’s optimised flowsheet.