Following strong offtake interest and agreements with Samsung SDI and LG Chem, Queensland Pacific Metals (ASX: QPM) will boost its proposed TECH Project’s capacity by more than two times the output evaluated in the pre-feasibility study.
The pre-feasibility study evaluated a scenario of 600,000 wet tonnes per annum.
However, Queensland Pacific claims discussions with potential offtake parties, along with memorandums of understanding with LG Chem and Samsung, had prompted it to increase the project’s scale.
Queensland Pacific is now looking to increase the capacity to 1.2-1.5Mtpa (wet) with production comprising key battery metals nickel and cobalt.
The company said the expanded project would increase its appeal to potential offtake parties. It will also enable Queensland Pacific to “benefit from large economies of scale” by enhancing capital efficiency and project economics.
Queensland Pacific chief executive officer Stephen Grocott said the decision to expand the project was made after months of work.
“We look forward to undertaking the definitive feasibility study and putting together the required commercial arrangements that we need to make the TECH Project a reality,” he added.
Ore supply to meet expanded capacity
As part of the expansion decision, Queensland Pacific has been assessing potential ore supply opportunities, including from its own Sewa Bay project.
The company already has agreements in place with New Caledonia-based Société des Mines de la Tontouta and Société Miniere Georges Montagnat SARL.
These agreements ensure Queensland Pacific has 600,000tpa of nickel and cobalt ore over 10 years with an option to extend it a further five.
With this existing contract, proprietary processing technology for the less favourable laterite ore, and other potential sources, Queensland Pacific claims it is “confident” it can secure additional supply to meet the expanded project requirements.
In addition to ensuring it can source ore for the boosted project, Queensland Pacific noted it was also “confident” it can procure the higher levels of gas and power needed.
The company also pointed out improvements to the flowsheet would mean water consumption is even less than estimated in the pre-feasibility study, despite the increased scale.
Queensland Pacific has also ensured key infrastructure such as road, rail and port access would be able to meet the larger project’s needs.
Environmental approval timing isn’t expected to change with a larger project with permits on track for the December quarter of this year.
Anticipated first production
Queensland Pacific is now targeting first production from the TECH plant in the second half of 2023.
Subject to a positive definitive feasibility study which begins next month and project funding, construction is pencilled in to start in April next year.
Underpinning the whole project is the proprietary DNi process which Queensland Pacific has now cemented in a definitive agreement.
The company has rights to the process for 30 years.