Tag Archives: Alan Taylor

Base metal price rise sparks nickel-cobalt laterite activity

With the nickel price having recovered from the late March lows and now trading above the $15,000/t mark on the LME, those miners and developers tied to the base metal have been making moves in the last few months. Alan Taylor at ALTA 2020 Online recently highlighted some of the more significant news in the nickel-cobalt laterite sector.

It comes just two months prior to the start of the virtual conference.

Ravensthorpe restarts

Often viewed as an industry bellwether, the First Quantum-owned Ravensthorpe nickel mine (pictured) in Western Australia is continuing with a restart plan despite coronavirus challenges, the company recently reported.

The acid plant and atmospheric leaching operations restarted in March 2020, with the first high pressure acid leach (HPAL) circuit brought on stream in mid-April, followed by product drying and containerising of nickel mixed hydroxide product.

The second HPAL circuit is scheduled to come online in due course.

Director of Exploration, Mike Christie, said previously at Paydirt’s Africa Downunder conference in September 2019 that the mine plans to ramp-up production to between 20,000-30,000 t/y of nickel over the next few years.

Some 1,979 t of nickel was produced at the operation in the June quarter.

Ramu expansion engineering ready

Looking back to an ASX announcement on October 8, 2018, from Highland Pacific, a minority partner in the Ramu Nickel JV, a A$1.5 billion ($1.1 billion) expansion continues to be investigated.

Ramu is currently rated at 34,000 t/y nickel and 3,300 t/y cobalt as mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP), achieved in 2017.

By way of an update, Craig Lennon, Executive Director of Highlands Pacific (now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Conic Metals Corp), advised Taylor that the expansion project is engineering-ready, although the final decision to proceed is dependent on factors including global markets and final permitting decisions in Papua New Guinea.

Indonesia projects slowed

There are several HPAL projects in Indonesia aimed at producing MHP for the electric vehicle battery industry. They received environmental approvals in January 2020, allowing them to proceed with construction, according to Jack Anderson of Roskill, however, their development depends on Chinese expertise and progress is likely to be slowed due to Chinese workers involved in the construction being quarantined.

Sunrise PEP progressing towards Q3 2020 completion

Fluor Australia Pty, as Project Management Contractor, is working with the Clean TeQ-owned Sunrise nickel/cobalt/scandium project team to develop a comprehensive Project Execution Plan (PEP) for the Sunrise project in New South Wales, Australia, according to reports.

The company expects that completion and announcement of the outcomes will be late in the September quarter.

Clean TeQ advises that the PEP capital estimate will likely be higher than the 2018 definitive feasibility study figure, while the operating costs indicate the project will remain extremely competitive because of strong cobalt by-product credits.

Queensland offers funding for Sconi

The Queensland government has offered Australian Mines a conditional financial support package for the development of the Sconi cobalt-nickel-scandium project in north Queensland, the mine developer says.

The package will be subject to a number of conditions including a timetable for securing an offtake agreement for all of the nickel sulphate and cobalt sulphate production (September 2020); delivery of a detailed execution plan, obtaining approved financing for construction and making a final investment decision; appointing an engineering, procurement, construction management contractor (end 2020); and completion of construction (July 2023).

It also includes conditions for employment of people and engagement of independent contractors working directly on the project.

Australian Mines, in August, became the first mineral resources company to be certified a “Carbon Neutral Organisation” under the Australian Government’s Climate Active program.

Piauí project granted preliminary environmental licence

Brazilian Nickel plc announced the granting of a Preliminary Environmental Licence by the Brazilian Piauí State Environmental Agency on October 22, 2019, for the mining and heap leaching processing plant to produce nickel and cobalt products for the battery industry at its Piauí nickel project.

The company says it is now ready to advance through a bankable feasibility study (BFS) enable financing and application for a construction permit.

An operating demonstration plant has leached 8,000 t of ore in full-height heaps and has achieved first sales of nickel and cobalt products. This will allow the company to expand the existing demonstration plant by a factor of 10 to 1,400 t/y nickel to jump-start the project to immediate producer status without the need for a BFS.

Process innovations

On the process innovation front, there have recently been two major stories from Pure Minerals and Metso Outotec.

Pure Minerals has secured a A$2.55 million grant via its wholly owned subsidiary Queensland Pacific Metals Pty Ltd (QPM) for the Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub (TECH) project. QPM and project partners Direct Nickel Projects Pty Ltd (DNi) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) successfully applied for the Federal Government grant.

The TECH project will process imported, high-grade nickel-cobalt laterite ore from New Caledonia to produce nickel sulphate, cobalt sulphate and other valuable co-products. If it proceeds it will be the first commercial application of the DNi Process™.

The next step is a pilot plant test work program on a bulk sample received from New Caledonia ore supply partners.

And, finally, Metso Outotec has introduced a new novel superheated steam sulphation process.

The process is a recent development of Metso Outotec, Finland, and has been successfully tested on a laboratory scale. It includes agglomeration of ground laterite with sulphuric acid, then superheated steam treatment at elevated temperature followed by water leaching. Nickel and cobalt are sulphated and solubilised. Iron dissolution is minimised by conversion from goethite to hematite. Sulphuric acid consumption is said to be moderate.

A paper on the process is to be presented by Metso Outotec in the ‘Nickel-Cobalt-Copper Conference’ at ALTA 2020 Online.

Pressure Acid Leaching for the production of nickel and cobalt for the battery industry is one of the key topics of the ‘Nickel-Cobalt-Copper Conference’ to be held on November 10-12 as part of ALTA 2020 Online.

This will be followed on November 13 by a short course ‘The ART of HPAL – The way of Success’. The course presenters played key roles as owner and engineering contractor in Sumitomo’s successful Coral Bay and Taganito HPAL projects in the Philippines.

International Mining is a media partner of ALTA 2020 Online

ALTA 2019 beats attendance records in 24th year

The organisers of ALTA 2019 are celebrating the largest conference in its 24-year history, with record attendance of 450 delegates from 32 countries, reflecting 20% growth on 2018.

This annual metallurgical event attracted 250 new faces, along with many previous attendees and ALTA regulars, according to organisers. It was supported by 29 sponsors, partners, co-sponsors and media partners.

The largest ALTA exhibition to date included 42 exhibitors and was attended by 75 visitors in addition to conference attendees, they said.

The technical program included 100 papers delivered across five conferences, with delegates treated to high-calibre opening and keynote speakers including David Weight, Cobalt Institute (UK), Dr Bryn Harris, NMR360 (Canada), Prof Jacques Eksteen, WASM (Australia), Dr Brett Moldovan, IAEA (Austria), Dr Karin Soldenhoff, ANSTO (Australia), Adrian Griffin, Lithium Australia (Australia) and Dr Horst Maerten, Heathgate Resources (Australia)/UIT (Germany).

All opening and keynote presentations or papers will be available shortly from the ALTA Free Library. In addition, for the first time, videos of the opening and keynote addresses will also be published. The full technical eProceedings will be available for purchase in July.

The associated panel discussions covered the topics of Pressure Acid Leaching, Developments in Uranium IX, Fit-for-Purpose Gold Leaching Systems, Novel Lithium Processes and Enhancing ISR Permeability. Detailed notes from each of the panel discussions will be published in the coming weeks.

The conference was enhanced by three practically-oriented technical short courses presented by Alan Taylor on Nickel-Cobalt Laterites, Copper SX/EW and Heap Leaching.

“The weekend courses were extremely popular, recording our highest attendance with 74 people from 20 countries,” ALTA said. ALTA short course manuals, seven in total, are available for purchase and immediate download from ALTA’s website.

Visit the website for the full conference report and photographs, go to https://www.altamet.com.au/conferences/alta-2019/

ALTA retains metallurgical innovation focus for 2019 event

The organisers of ALTA are gearing up to welcome the international metallurgical community to Perth, Western Australia, with the annual conference now just a month away.

ALTA has developed a reputation as a leading technical metallurgical-oriented event, attracting senior industry representatives from around the globe. The conference had a record attendance last year and is hoping to hit new heights in 2019.

ALTA 2019, to be held on May 18-25 at the Pan Pacific Perth, promises to continue the tradition of delivering high-quality technical content for professionals from the metallurgical and related sectors, the organisers said.

Conference Founder and Chair, Metallurgical Consultant Alan Taylor, said: “For the past 23 years, this event has provided a dynamic forum for sharing ideas, innovations, technologies and projects. Both ALTA and the industry have come a long way since our first conference in 1995, but our focus on the importance of metallurgical innovation remains the same.”

The emphasis of the program is practical rather than academic, and the themes running through the conference are the various aspects of technology and project development. “Each session has been carefully crafted to provide the best value for delegates and includes an insightful and authoritative keynote address,” the organisers said.

Taylor said: “Over many years, the conference has evolved to meet the demands of the industry. For example, in recent years, the program has been expanded to include the current hot topics of lithium processing, and in-situ recovery (ISR) and to reflect the rapidly developing field of battery metals.”

The event now incorporates separate dedicated sessions for nickel-cobalt-copper, uranium-rare earths, gold-precious metals, ISR and lithium processing.

The organisers said: “Panel discussions and Q&A are a major highlight of ALTA events, providing a unique opportunity for knowledge sharing, discussion and debate with highly-experienced professionals. Following the conference, detailed notes are published for the benefit of the wider industry and are provided via the ALTA Free Library.”

The signature nickel-cobalt-copper combined sessions are spread over three days, encompassing segments on battery metals, laterite processing, leaching process development and other key topics. The highlight of the sessions is the Pressure Acid Leaching (PAL) Forum and Panel Q&A, which acknowledges the 20th anniversary of the commissioning of the landmark Bulong, Cawse, and Murrin Murrin nickel-cobalt PAL projects, according to the organisers.

The uranium-REE sessions, organised in co-operation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (Austria), for the fifth year, are held on May 23. They feature a Developments in IX Forum and Panel Q&A.

ALTA has partnered with Curtin Gold Technology Group (Perth) for the Gold-PM sessions, also on May 23, with The Forum and Panel Q&A focussed on fit-for purpose leaching systems, ALTA’s organisers said.

On the final day of the conference, the ISR sessions will run in parallel with the lithium processing sessions, each offering its own panel discussion, “providing a rare opportunity for open discussion and debate”.

The ISR sessions are organised in partnership with CSIRO (Perth), which will lead the Forum and Panel discussion on Enhancing ISR Permeability. The Novel Lithium Processes Forum and Panel Q&A is already attracting international interest, according to organisers.

By popular demand, this year’s ALTA will also introduce additional flexibility for attendees by including single-day and corporate shared registrations options, the organisers said, on top of a short course program. The latter three practically-oriented short courses are presented by Alan Taylor, who draws from his extensive first-hand experience gained in 40-plus years with major engineering firms and as an independent consultant.

“The courses, a valuable introduction for newcomers and a useful refresher for old hands, typically attract a highly-international audience,” the organisers said, adding that the 2019 courses cover nickel-cobalt laterites, copper SX/EW and heap leaching of copper, gold, uranium and nickel.

The organisers said this year’s exhibition area has been expanded to meet increased demand, with the floor boasting Australia and international exhibitors.