Tag Archives: cobalt

Perenti’s Barminco seals Savannah nickel project contract

Perenti Global’s hard-rock underground mining subsidiary, Barminco, has finalised a contract with Panoramic Resources for development and production works at the Savannah nickel project in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

The finalised contract represents a value of around A$280 million ($208 million) over a four-year contract term, Perenti said.

Under the terms of the initial letter of intent, announced on the April 6, 2021, Barminco commenced mobilisation and early mining works ahead of the schedule. With finalisation of the contract, Barminco expects development and production works will ramp-up over the coming six months to achieve full run rate of revenue early in the March quarter of 2022.

The contract will be serviced by new underground mining equipment including the use of tele-remote mining equipment, expected to deliver both safety and productivity benefits, Panoramic said.

Ore processing at Savannah is scheduled to begin in November with first concentrate shipment from Savannah targeted for the following month, Panoramic said. The building of an ore stockpile on the surface has already commenced and the company plans for this to reach 100,000 t prior to turning on the processing plant.

Perenti’s Managing Director and CEO, Mark Norwell, said: “We look forward to working together with the team at Panoramic to develop what we all expect will be Australia’s next long-life nickel producing mine. Despite the challenging labour market conditions in Western Australia, we have been successful in mobilising a labour force of approximately 110 highly skilled underground employees. We expect this to increase to 170 as the project ramps up. Securing this labour force has enabled us to commence early works ahead of schedule.”

Savannah has outlined a 12-year mine life with an average annual production target of 9,072 t of nickel, 4,683 t of copper and 676 t cobalt in concentrate. The mine is set to operate at average site all-in costs of A$6.36/lb of payable nickel, net of copper and cobalt by-product credits and royalty payments. This equates to roughly $4.86/Ib or $10,714/t.

The operation, with more than A$100 million already invested, has been maintained since the suspension of operations in April 2020 with a view towards operational readiness and project optimisation. This includes the recent completion of the FAR#3 ventilation raise, underground capital development on four mining levels at Savannah North and ancillary capital works on surface and underground infrastructure, which are currently being completed, Panoramic says.

Cobalt Blue taps Honeywell for process control, automation, energy savings expertise

Honeywell and Cobalt Blue Holdings Limited have announced Honeywell will provide control, automation and energy optimisation solutions to help Cobalt Blue “streamline” its Broken Hill cobalt project (BHCP) and help to reduce the risk levels involved.

BHCP, which covers an area of 63 sq.km in New South Wales, Australia, intends to develop a new, reliable, global source of ethically-sourced cobalt.

Honeywell will deliver a wide range of solutions and services to enable Cobalt Blue to move BHCP seamlessly from pilot to production, including LEAP™ lean project execution; reusable engineering standards and templates; process control, enterprise performance management, energy optimisation solutions; and consulting and engineering services.

The collaboration also includes assistance in the development of a modular cobalt concentrator unit for BHCP, which can be applied for other mining and industrial waste streams project. This will improve cobalt recovery rates on running operations and reduce the environmental impact of old mine tailings, Honeywell said.

Joe Kaderavek, CEO of Cobalt Blue, said: “Our work with Honeywell will help us to de-risk and cost-optimise the process control, automation, and energy savings components of the BHCP project and reduce our time to market. Moreover, it will help us to meet our objective to produce 3,500 t of cobalt per year and meet rapidly increasing market demand.”

Andrew Hird, Director of APAC Growth and Sales Director, Pacific, Honeywell Process Solutions, said: “We’re committed to working with rare earth and green energy mineral partners such as Cobalt Blue to deliver sustainable products that help organisations around the globe achieve their carbon neutrality goals.

“Our technologies are ideally suited for this purpose, from automating operations to ensure a rapid response to evolving energy needs, to giving customers the capability to interpret data to make real-time decisions related to energy management and renewable energy systems.”

Honeywell recently committed to achieving carbon neutrality in its operations and facilities by 2035, building on the company’s record of reducing the greenhouse gas intensity of its operations and facilities, as well as its history of innovation to help its customers meet their environmental and social goals, the company said. About half of Honeywell’s new product introduction research and development investment is directed toward products that improve environmental and social outcomes for customers.

Sber and Eurasian Resources Group to cooperate on metals and mining ESG standards

Sber and Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) have signed a Memorandum of Intent to cooperate on developing environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards, including green financing instruments, for the metals and mining industry.

The document was signed by Andrey Shemetov, Senior Vice President and Head of SberCIB, and Benedikt Sobotka, Chief Executive Officer of Eurasian Resources Group.

The parties plan to develop ESG standards for the metals and mining industry, including relevant targets and metrics, and apply ESG-linked financial instruments to support mining and metals production. Sber and ERG will also collaborate on matters concerning investment and export opportunities, with ERG receiving advice and information support from Sber on ESG risk analysis.

Shemetov said: “We have been working with ERG, one of the world’s leading mineral mining and processing companies, for a long time, and this partnership has been fruitful. Mining and processing are vital to the economy, and we are aware they entail certain environmental risks. That is why it is most important that market players adhere to ESG principles.

“We welcome ERG’s willingness to evolve ESG-wise and, for our part, are ready to facilitate the development of the company’s sustainable practices while offering a variety of green products and joint projects. I am confident that this work will contribute heavily to the attainment of sustainable development goals by our companies.”

Sobotka added: “We are pleased to continue our partnership with Sber. ESG factors and sustainable development goals have been at the heart of the group’s activities for many years, while responsible ‘green’ investments for project financing are more relevant today than ever. The ethical production of the metals of the future, such as the cobalt needed to produce electric vehicles and gadgets, is essential for the transition to a green and lower-carbon economy. This is a major part of the group’s overarching mission.

“This agreement will facilitate the introduction of ESG principles into our decision-making processes as we implement innovative projects in our regions of presence. We are confident that the new collaboration with Sber will make a significant contribution to the group’s progress in this respect.”

Canada Nickel’s Crawford mine could be low carbon nickel leader, Skarn says

Canada Nickel Company, following an assessment from metals and mining ESG research company, Skarn Associates, claims its Crawford project in Ontario, Canada, could have an industry leading low carbon footprint, lower than 99.7% of existing global nickel production.

When in operation, Crawford is expected to produce 2.05 t of carbon dioxide (CO2) per tonne of nickel-equivalent production over the life of mine, which is 93% lower than the industry average of 29 tonnes of CO2, it said.

These results are based on a study by Skarn Associates, applying data from Canada Nickel’s preliminary economic assessment (PEA), the results of which were released on May 25, 2021. This study from Ausenco estimated annual average nickel production of 34,000 t over a 25-year life of mine, use of autonomous trolley trucks and electric shovels to reduce diesel use by 40%, and optimisation of the carbon sequestration potential of the tailings and waste rock. A feasibility study on the project is expected to be completed by mid-2022.

On the Skarn study, Canada Nickel said: “Importantly, this CO2 footprint estimate does not include the carbon offset expected to be provided from the process of spontaneous mineral carbonation from the tailings and waste rock comprised largely of serpentine rock which naturally absorbs CO2 when exposed to air.”

Mark Selby, Chair & CEO of the company, said: “This study demonstrates that Canada Nickel’s Crawford project can be a world-leading large scale, low cost nickel supplier while possessing an extremely low carbon footprint. I am particularly excited that we can achieve this result even before we include the carbon offset potential from our waste rock and tailings which we expect to allow us to produce NetZero NickelTM, NetZero CobaltTM, and NetZero IronTM.

“These results reflect the mine’s low strip ratio and our ability to utilise the low carbon hydroelectricity in the region and by using trolley trucks and electric shovels to reduce the consumption of diesel fuel.”

Skarn Associates’ proprietary E0 GHG intensity metric relates to Scope 1 and 2 mine site emissions from mining and processing of ore, plus fugitive emissions. It includes emissions from integrated smelting and refining facilities, but excludes emissions from third-party smelting and refining, Canada Nickel explained.

Emission intensities are stated on a recovered nickel-equivalent basis, calculated using average 2020 metal prices. Emissions are pro-rated across all commodities produced by the mine, based on contribution to gross revenue.

Panoramic, Primero and Barminco get to work on restarting Savannah nickel operation

Panoramic Resources Ltd, after a 12-month review process, has approved the restart of the Savannah Nickel Operation, in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

The decision hinges on a 12-year mine life with an average annual production target of 9,072 t of nickel, 4,683 t of copper and 676 t cobalt in concentrate; as well as an offtake agreement with Trafigura that will also see the trading company provide a loan facility of up to A$45 million to cover the A$41 million of upfront capital cost required to restart the mine.

Savannah is set to operate at average site all-in costs of A$6.36/lb of payable nickel, net of copper and cobalt by-product credits and royalty payments. This equates to roughly $4.86/Ib or $10,714/t.

Savannah, with more than A$100 million already invested, has been maintained since the suspension of operations in April 2020 with a view towards operational readiness and project optimisation. This includes the recent completion of the FAR#3 ventilation raise, underground capital development on four mining levels at Savannah North and ancillary capital works on surface and underground infrastructure, which are currently being completed, Panoramic said.

The restart decision has led to divisions of Perenti and NRW Holdings being awarded significant contracts related to the resumption of mining activities.

Barminco, a subsidiary of the Perenti Group, has been awarded a four-year underground mining contract under a binding letter of intent and is scheduled to mobilise to site in July 2021. The contract will be serviced by new underground mining equipment including the use of tele-remote mining equipment, expected to deliver both safety and productivity benefits, Panoramic said.

The contractor was formally awarded the A$200 million contract back in February.

“Based on Barminco’s previous working knowledge at Savannah, opportunities to increase ore production and reduce dilution have also been identified,” the company added, explaining that underground mining is planned to commence in August, with ore to initially be sourced from both the Savannah and the Savannah North deposits.

Following an evaluation of an owner-operator model for the processing plant and a competitive contract tender process, Panoramic has also signed a non-binding letter of intent worth A$35 million with Primero (owned by NRW Holdings), which envisages a three-year agreement. The agreement relates to all processing and maintenance work at the Savannah processing plant, which has been maintained in “excellent condition” during the suspension, Panoramic said.

“A number of opportunities for improved recoveries through enhanced operating practices and minor capital projects have been identified,” the company added. As a result, the non-binding letter of intent with Primero has been structured to incentivise achieving higher than budget recoveries.

Panoramic is working with Primero to complete a binding contract in the coming months, but ore processing is set to restart in November 2021, allowing ore stockpiles to build for around three months (100,000 t) to de-risk ore supply issues.

The process plant at Savannah was commissioned in August 2004 and comprises a single stage crusher, SAG mill, flotation, thickening and filtering stages to produce a bulk nickel, copper, cobalt concentrate. Over the 2004 to 2016 initial operating period, metallurgical recoveries averaged 86-89% for nickel, 94-97% for copper and 89-92% for cobalt. The plant was originally designed for a throughput of 750,000 t/y, but consistently outperformed the design specifications with rates exceeding 1 Mt on an annualised basis, Panoramic said.

First concentrate shipment from the Wyndham Port is targeted for December 2021.

Vale sells New Caledonia nickel-cobalt operations to consortium

Vale confirms that its Vale Canada Limited subsidiary has concluded the sale of its ownership interest in Vale Nouvelle-Calédonie SAS (VNC) to the Prony Resources New Caledonia consortium.

The consortium of investors, including Trafigura, comprises a majority and non-dilutable shareholding for New Caledonian interests, Vale said.

Eduardo Bartolomeo, CEO of Vale, said: “After several months of negotiations, I am pleased that we concluded our divestment of VNC, benefitting employees, New Caledonia and all its stakeholders. Vale is fully committed to this transaction. It meets the guarantees required at the financial, social and environmental levels and offers a sustainable future for the operations.”

Vale’s intent from the beginning of the divestment process was to withdraw from New Caledonia in an orderly and responsible manner, with the company saying the deal accomplishes that.

Vale previously tried to sell the operations to Australia-based New Century Resources, but the two parties failed to reach an agreement.

The deal provides the former VNC operations with a financial package totaling $1.1 billion, of which Vale Canada Limited is contributing $555 million to support the continuity of the operations. The financing of the “Pact for the Sustainable Development of the Deep South” will also be secured by Vale, it said.

The Pact for Sustainable Development of the Deep South was signed on September 27, 2008, between Vale New Caledonia and communities south of the “Grand” for a period of 30 years. It urges the industry to create and implement specific measures to support the development of the Deep South in a sustainable manner.

In addition to its financial commitment to continue operations, Vale will continue to have the right to a long-term nickel supply agreement for a proportion of the operation’s production, allowing it to, the company says, continue addressing the growing demand for nickel by the electric vehicle industry.

Mark Travers, Executive Vice President for Base Metals with Vale, said: “Along with the continuation of the Pact, the deal also allows the Lucy Project for dry storage of tailings to proceed. We want to acknowledge the time and effort of all stakeholders to achieving this deal, including the French State, and especially the employees of VNC for their trust and support through a lengthy and uncertain process.”

VNC is a producer of nickel and cobalt from the Goro mine. It also has a processing plant and a port.

FLSmidth high density thickeners optimise recoveries at DRC copper-cobalt mine

FLSmidth says it has delivered a thickener solution to help double production rates at one of the world’s largest copper and cobalt producers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The order for the solution, which included six of FLSmidth’s high density thickeners, was placed in 2020, with delivery now completed.

The mine already had FLSmidth thickeners on site, with the company’s proposal for the mine’s expanded requirements  based on test work to confirm the characteristics of the material to be treated, according to FLSmidth General Manager Projects and Account Sales, Howard Areington.

“The tests confirmed that we could use a similar design to what we had installed on the mine some years previously,” he says. “This solution included six counter current decantation (CCD) thickeners and one pre-leach thickener, each measuring 31 m in diameter.”

These units deliver high solids underflow to optimise the recovery of dissolved metals, according to FLSmidth. In addition to the steeper floor slope, these thickeners were designed with a high torque ring gear drive design, with high tolerances that make for minimal maintenance over long periods of time, the company says.

“Our high density thickener design ensures consistently high underflow densities which allows the operator to sustain high production rates and better recoveries,” Areington says.

These CCD thickeners are manufactured from LDX2101 duplex stainless steel. This provides mechanical benefits without compromising chemical resistance, allowing the mass of each unit to be reduced, the company explained. The pre-leach thickener, which was not exposed to corrosive conditions, is constructed from carbon steel.

“We also designed and supplied five impurities removal thickeners, which are high rate thickeners, also in LDX2101 stainless steel,” Areington says. “The sizes of these units ranged from 20 to 30 m in diameter.”

Fabrication of the equipment was carried out in South Africa while accommodating the demands of the COVID-19 lockdown, which required careful planning and flexibility. With components and platework delivered to site, the welding and construction was conducted by the mine with installation assistance from FLSmidth and its agent in the region.

Nickel 28 claims industry ‘first’ carbon neutral status

Nickel 28 Capital Corp has become what it believes is the first carbon neutral refined nickel-cobalt producer in the world through a transaction involving the purchase of 52,500 carbon offsets on the Verra Registry.

The carbon offsets will, it says, fully offset Nickel 28’s anticipated 2021 attributable greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the Ramu integrated nickel-cobalt mine and refinery in Papua New Guinea (pictured), an asset it owns 8.56% of.

Anthony Milewski, Chairman of Nickel 28, said: “We are incredibly excited to be one of the first, if not the first, producers of refined nickel and cobalt in the world to fully offset its carbon footprint.

“We feel strongly that each of us has an obligation to do our part personally and professionally to help stave off the negative impacts of climate change. As the world pivots to electric vehicles and other means of decarbonisation, it is imperative that the critical basic materials fuelling the transition have the minimum possible impact on the environment.”

On February 9, Nickel 28 announced it had completed an independent analysis on GHG intensity for the Ramu nickel-cobalt operation, confirming the operation is one of the lower GHG emitters in the nickel industry. Ramu’s average GHG intensity has been calculated at 15.6 t of carbon dioxide equivalent per tonne of nickel (15.6 tCO2e/t Ni) in mixed hydroxide product. This compared favourably with a nickel industry average GHG intensity of 36.6 tCO2e/t Ni as calculated by Wood Mackenzie, Nickel 28 said.

The company says it will continue to introduce greater environmental, social and governance transparency with respect to its assets in response to investor and industry trends.

“In addition to GHG emission reporting, Nickel 28 will be providing further clarity with respect to other key measures such as health and safety statistics, community investment, energy and water usage, rehabilitation, and land reclamation,” it said.

Nickel 28 currently holds an 8.56% joint-venture interest in the Ramu operation, with Ramu operated by the Metallurgical Corporation of China, which, along with its partners, owns an 85% interest in Ramu.

Ramu produced 33,659 t of contained nickel in mixed hydroxide product in 2020, compared with 32,722 t in 2019.

Jervois Mining looks to POX leaching to boost SMP nickel-cobalt refinery recoveries

Jervois Mining says it plans to integrate a pressure oxidation leach (POX) circuit into the São Miguel Paulista nickel-cobalt refinery in Brazil.

Jervois paid the first tranche towards its acquisition of SMP refinery in December after announcing plans to acquire the refinery in September 2020. The acquisition aims to complement its 100%-owned Idaho Cobalt Operations (ICO) in the US, transforming Jervois into a vertically integrated producer capable of refining cobalt and nickel.

The company appointed Australia-based Elemental Engineering to commence sysCAD modelling of the SMP refinery flowsheet for optimisation of product integration, including hydroxides and carbonate products, oxides and sulphide concentrates as part of a feasibility study (FS) for SMP’s restart.

As a result of Elemental’s work, Jervois has determined it shall integrate a POX leach circuit at the refinery.

“The inclusion of the POX autoclave offers a number of advantages compared to roasting concentrates, namely high metal recovery, low overall operating costs, enhanced ESG metrics due to lower emissions and energy usage, improved refined product purity and compact installation footprint on site,” the company said. “Preliminary POX sighter testwork at SGS Perth Western Australia, in conjunction with Elemental’s work, returned satisfactory results.”

While POX comes with a higher capital expense than roasting alternatives, it is a commercially demonstrated technology with low technical risk, allowing Jervois to leverage its recently appointed commercial team, Jervois said. A POX autoclave better compliments the refinery flowsheet, unlocks sunk capital by debottlenecking the existing leach capacity and adds significant flexibility to future refinery feed options, it added.

Jervois will process sulphide concentrate produced from ICO via this integrated POX leach circuit, with Jervois’ commercial team actively pursuing supply contracts for nickel and cobalt intermediate products. The introduction of a POX autoclave opens up greater capacity to leach other hydroxide and carbonate feed products to maximise existing refinery capacity, the company said.

Third-party concentrates can also be potentially introduced into the POX to process with Jervois’s ICO concentrates. Early discussions with potential third-party suppliers of sulphide-based concentrates have been positive, with the company now openly engaging with suppliers to optimise the sizing and economics of front-end pre-treatment.

As part of this, a decision has been made to reserve the maximum amount of copper capacity at SMP refinery for third parties. A consequence is that ICO construction is being advanced on the basis of the production of separated cobalt and copper concentrates. Jervois’s engineering advisers, DRA Global and M3 Engineering, completed the ICO BFS on both bulk and separated concentrate flowsheets, with construction plans being implemented based on the production of cobalt concentrate (containing gold and low in copper) and a copper concentrate. Commercial terms were obtained for both separated products as part of the BFS.

Jervois says it and Companhia Brasileira de Alumínio (CBA), the current owner of the SMP refinery, continue to work expeditiously towards closing Jervois’ acquisition of SMP.

Jervois plans a measured and staged approach to the refinery facility restart. Initial refurbishment works will be completed to progress the processing of intermediate hydroxide and carbonate products followed by the integration of the POX leach circuit to align with ICO commissioning, it said.

Jervois is in discussions with suitably qualified engineering contractors that have the appropriate nickel and cobalt refining experience, have a significant presence in Brazil, and have recently completed a POX and metals plant installation, to award the BFS for the refinery restart. This formal tender process is underway.

Canada Silver Cobalt Works enlists SGS Canada for Re-2OX pilot plant build

Canada Silver Cobalt Works has signed an agreement with SGS Canada Inc to proceed with its Re-2OX pilot plant in Ontario, Canada.

This critical step will allow the company to, it says, accelerate the production of client-specific battery metals for the North American electric vehicle (EV) market, one of its key strategies.

In 2018, SGS Lakefield used the environmentally friendly Re-2OX process to recover 99% of the cobalt and 81% of the nickel from a composite of gravity concentrates while also removing 99% of the arsenic, a long-time issue in this cobalt-rich Cobalt Camp. The gravity concentrates graded 9.25% Co, 5.65% Ni, 49.9% As and 9,250 g/t Ag.

The Re-2OX process, which skips the normal smelting process to create battery-grade cobalt sulphate, was used at SGS to produce a technical-grade cobalt sulphate hexahydrate at 22.6%, directly from cobalt-rich gravity concentrates produced from the first level of Canada Silver Cobalt Works’ Castle mine in the Cobalt Camp. The 22.6% cobalt sulphate compound exceeded the specifications required by battery manufacturers at that time, the company said.

The latest plan calls for SGS to design and build the Stage 1 pilot plant at Lakefield, Ontario. Feed material for this test work will come from the underground at the Castle mine, the high-grade silver discovery Robinson Zone, Beaver and Castle tailings, recycled batteries, and from newly acquired properties.

Management sees the Re-2OX pilot plant as a long-term strategic advantage that will facilitate the production of battery metals for the EV market for many years.

“More importantly, production can be certified as ethically sourced within stringent Canadian environmental standards and traceable verification of a closed-loop supply chain that will ensure this product is highly sought after and could even possibly garner a premium due to source verification,” the company said. “The cobalt ore will come from the Cobalt region including from the Castle property currently being aggressively drilled for high-grade silver and battery metals.”

The company has retained the services of ONSite Labs as an independent contract operator of the Temiskaming Testing Laboratories facility Canada Silver Cobalt Works acquired last year. ONSite is a commercial analytical lab operator.

Over the next four months, ONSite Labs will process samples to prove the ability to produce viable data with the highest standards of quality control, the company said, adding that the lab could be fully operational and open for business by the summer of 2021.

The Castle property is 15 km east of Pan American Silver’s Juby gold deposit, 30 km due south of Alamos Gold’s Young-Davidson mine, 75 km southwest of Kirkland Lake Gold’s Macassa Complex, and 100 km southeast of new gold discoveries in the Timmins West area.