Canada Nickel Company has released the results of a bankable feasibility study (BFS) on its wholly-owned Crawford nickel sulphide project in Ontario, Canada that highlights the potential use of trolley-assist trucking and the company’s proprietary carbon capture and storage technology.
The BFS, prepared by Ausenco Engineering Canada, displayed an after-tax NPV (8% discount) of $2.5 billion and an internal rate of return of 17.1%. This is based on a long-term nickel price of $21,000/t, a C$:$US of $0.76 and an oil price of $70/bbl.
Crawford, in Timmins, Ontario, is the world’s second largest nickel reserve, according to Wood Mackenzie. Once in production, it is also expected to become one of Canada’s largest carbon storage facilities and be a net negative contributor of CO2 over the project life.
The study was based off proven and probable reserves of 3.8 Mt contained nickel from 1,700 Mt of ore grading 0.22% Ni, providing annual average nickel production of 38,000 t over a 41-year life, with production of 48,000 t/y of nickel, 800 t/y of cobalt, 13,000 oz of palladium and platinum, 1.6 Mt/y of iron and 76,000 t/y of chrome over 27-year peak period.
Crawford will produce two concentrates with life-of-mine average concentrate grades as follows:
- Nickel concentrate: 34% Ni, 0.7% Co and 4.1 g/t combined Pd and Pt; and
- Iron ore concentrate: 55% Fe, 0.3% Ni, 2.6% Cr.
The project’s carbon footprint has been calculated at 4.8 t CO2 per tonne of nickel in concentrate, or 2.3 t CO2 per tonne of nickel equivalent, largely due to the use of an electrically powered mining fleet, including trolley-assist trucks, that are expected to reduce diesel consumption by over 40% compared to diesel powered equipment.
Crawford will mine two separate open pits that contain approximately equal tonnages of ore. Approximately 89% of material mined will be rock, which will be drilled and blasted before being loaded by electrically powered rope shovels or large hydraulic excavators into 290 t trucks equipped with trolley assist. Over 70% of uphill hauls by this fleet will be conducted on trolley, reducing diesel consumption by approximately 1.5 billion litres, while faster speeds will reduce the fleet by 12 units, the company says. The remaining material will be overburden that will not require drilling and blasting and will be loaded and hauled with a mixed fleet of smaller equipment.
The concentrator will process ore using a conventional milling circuit. Unit operations include crushing, SAG and ball mill grinding, desliming, nickel flotation, magnetic separation on the flotation tailings and carbon storage using the company’s proprietary IPT (In-Process Tailings) Carbonation technology.
Crawford, and the company’s other properties in the Timmins Nickel District, are hosted in ultramafic rock, which contain minerals such as brucite that naturally absorb and sequester CO2. Canada Nickel has developed the novel IPT Carbonation process which involves injecting a concentrated source of CO2 into tailings generated by the milling process for a brief period of time. This simple process stores CO2 chemically in the tailings while they are still in the processing circuit, rather than after they have been finally deposited.
This technology is anticipated to allow capture and storage of 1.5 Mt/y of CO2 during the 27-year peak period, the bulk of which will be sold to third parties.
Mark Selby, CEO of Canada Nickel, said: “This BFS is a significant milestone for Crawford and a major step forward in demonstrating the value of our Timmins Nickel District and its potential to anchor a Zero Carbon Industrial Cluster in the Timmins-Cochrane region. Crawford is poised to be a leader in the energy transition through the large-scale production of critical minerals, including nickel and cobalt, and is expected to become the sole North American producer of chromium, while also supporting Canada’s climate objectives through industrial-scale carbon capture and storage.
“I am very proud of our team for accomplishing this milestone in a very short amount of time. Just four years ago, Crawford had only five drill holes. Today, we believe it is a world-class project with tremendous momentum. We are fully focused on pursuing our next milestones of obtaining permits, developing a financing package, and moving towards a production decision by mid-2025, with a goal of first production by the end of 2027.”