Tag Archives: cobalt

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.

Nornickel backs responsible sourcing and production practices with blockchain agreement

Norilsk Nickel says it is joining the Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network (RSBN), an industry collaboration among members across the minerals supply chain using blockchain technology to support responsible sourcing and production practices from mine to market.

The move to join RSBN comes after Nornickel announced a broad strategy to use sophisticated digital technologies to create a customer-centric supply chain, which would include metal-backed tokens on the global Atomyze platform, a tokenisation platform that represents physical assets in digital form. Both the Atomyze and RSBN platforms were developed by leveraging Hyperledger technology, with IBM’s participation, the PGM and base metal miner said.

With Nornickel joining the RSBN, a series of its supply chains will be audited annually against key responsible sourcing requirements by RCS Global. The audits cover each stage of the company’s vertically integrated operations from mines in Russia to refineries in Finland and Russia.

Once audited against responsible sourcing requirements, each supply chain will be brought on to the RSBN and an “immutable audit data” trail will be captured on the platform, proving responsible nickel and cobalt production, its maintenance and its ethical provenance.

“Integration with RSBN is yet another step for Nornickel towards achieving greater business sustainability by creating a permanent record of minerals on the blockchain,” the company said.

At a later development stage, data such as upstream carbon intensity and other ESG attributes will be tracked, it added.

Built on IBM Blockchain technology and powered by the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric, the RSBN platform helps improve transparency in the mineral supply chain by providing a highly secure and immutable record that can be shared with specified members of the network, Nornickel says. Additionally, RCS Global Group assesses each participating entity both initially and annually against responsible sourcing requirements set by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and those enshrined by key industry bodies, including the Responsible Minerals Initiative.

Anton Berlin, Nornickel’s Vice President, Sales and Distribution, said: “As one of the largest industry groups globally and the producer of the minerals essential for the transition to a carbon-free world, Nornickel is well aware of its responsibility to make the metals supply chains sustainable and highly transparent. We believe that the digital technologies of RSBN and Atomyze will create the path for Nornickel and its partners to participate in a circular value chain, tracing commodity flows in near real time as well as replacing cumbersome paperwork.”

RCS Global CEO, Dr Nicholas Garrett, added: “The RSBN has proven that responsible sourcing can be traced and documented using blockchain technology. Assuring Nornickel’s supply chains is another milestone engagement for RCS Global and Nornickel’s commitment to the RSBN and demonstrates momentum for blockchain backed responsible sourcing platform in the metals sector.”

Manish Chawla, Global Managing Director, Chemicals, Petroleum & Industrial Products, IBM, said: “Norilsk Nickel is an important addition to the Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network and we look forward to their contributions to help advance the assurance for responsible sourcing and the group’s sustainability goals that have a direct impact on successful and accountable development for entire industries.”

RSBN is designed to be adopted across industries by original equipment manufacturers in automotive, electronics, aerospace and defence as well as their supply chain partners such as mining companies and battery manufacturers.

Canada Nickel investigates Crawford processing potential at Glencore’s Kidd concentrator

Canada Nickel Co says it has entered into a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Glencore Canada that could see material mined from Canada Nickel’s Crawford nickel-cobalt sulphide project treated and processed at Glencore’s Kidd concentrator and metallurgical site in Timmins, Ontario.

Crawford, around 40 km north of Glencore’s operations, hosts a 657 Mt measured and indicated resource grading 0.26% Ni and 0.013% Co. It is currently the subject of a preliminary economic assessment (PEA).

The Kidd operations consisting of the Kidd metallurgical site and the Kidd mine. The concentrator is located on the property of the Kidd Metallurgical Site, 27 km east of Timmins, in the Townships of Hoyle and Matheson. Built in 1966 with numerous upgrades over the years, the concentrator currently processes metal ore to produce copper and zinc concentrates. The facility has a design rated capacity of 12,500 t/d and is fully permitted with water taking and discharge permits and thickened tailings storage. The site has incoming and outgoing rail service via Ontario Northland Railway.

Canada Nickel says it has completed an initial high-level assessment of the potential arrangements envisaged under the MoU and will proceed with a detailed study on the potential for upgrading excess capacity at the Kidd concentrator and/or using the existing infrastructure in place at the Kidd metallurgical site for milling and further processing the nickel-cobalt and magnetite concentrates that are expected to be produced from Crawford.

Mark Selby, Chair and CEO of Canada Nickel, said: “The opportunity to utilise the excess capacity and existing infrastructure at the Kidd Met Site provides the potential to allow a faster, simpler, smaller scale start-up of Crawford at a vastly lower capital cost while the company continues to permit and develop the much larger-scale project currently being contemplated.

“Given the potential for this significant change in the scope of the project start-up, the release of the PEA will be delayed until the end of March 2021 to allow this option, if successful, to be incorporated.”

This study is being led by Ausenco Engineering Canada Inc, which is also supporting the assessment of the Kidd Met Site facilities.

Canada Nickel’s plans include the development of a “Zero-Carbon footprint operation”. This considers the use of electric rope shovels and trolley trucks which utilise electricity, rather than diesel fuel, as a power source wherever possible, along with a natural mineral carbonation approach for the deposition of waste rock and tailings during mining to allow material to absorb CO2.

RUC Mining, Barminco keep Panoramic’s Savannah nickel restart plan on track

Panoramic Resources says underground development at the Savannah nickel project in Western Australia is moving ahead as planned, with both its raisebore contractor and contract miner striving towards the ASX-listed company’s first half 2021 restart goal.

In a progress update, the company said mining contractor, Barminco, had completed the 468 m horizontal underground development drive, connecting with the vertical ventilation shaft to complete Fresh Air Raise (FAR #3) development at Savannah North, in late September.

Since then, specialist raiseboring contractor, RUC Mining, has been setting up the raisebore rig on the surface and installing the reamer head at the 1675 RL, which was developed to intersect into the existing FAR #3 raise.

“This complicated and critical task was completed safely and efficiently as planned,” Panoramic said on October 19. “RUC is tasked with the FAR #3 back-reaming, which commenced over the weekend and expected to be completed in the March 2021 quarter.”

A total of 354 m will be back reamed at a diameter of 3.85 m, according to the company. This is planned to provide sufficient ventilation to support future full-scale mining operations from Savannah North in line with the Mine Plan released in late July.

Managing Director and CEO, Victor Rajasooriar, said: “We now have a firm foundation to recommence underground pre-production development next month, to complete ventilation works for Savannah North and complete areas of capital development to lay further groundwork for a potential restart of operations. This work will be concluded towards the end of the March quarter 2021 and we expect to be in a position where the project is capable of being restarted in the first half of 2021.”

The Savannah Mine Plan outlined a mine life of around 13 years, with the majority of ore sourced from the Savannah North orebody. Average annual production for years 1-12 would be 8,810 t of nickel, 4, 579 t of copper and 659 t of cobalt in concentrate, with all-in costs for these years of $5.27/lb of payable nickel, net of copper and cobalt by-product credits.

US DFC investment paves way for Piauí nickel-cobalt production, TechMet says

The US International Development Finance Corp (DFC) has made a $25 million investment into TechMet Ltd, a private investment company with a portfolio of projects that produce, process and recycle metals tied to the production of electric vehicles (EVs), renewable energy systems and energy storage.

The funds will be used to bring into initial commercial production one of TechMet’s core investments, Brazilian Nickel Plc, which will be a low-cost nickel-cobalt producer in Piaui, in north-eastern Brazil, it said.

Piauí is a nickel laterite heap leaching project that has a combined measured and indicated JORC compliant resource of 72 Mt at 1% Ni and 0.05% Co. Brazilian Nickel has previously completed a large-scale demonstration of the heap leaching, purification and recovery of nickel and cobalt from the Piauí ore (pictured).

The DFC investment, part of TechMet’s Round 2 equity raising, follows on the heels of US President, Donald Trump, signing an Executive Order and declaring a National Emergency to expand the domestic mining industry, support mining jobs, alleviate unnecessary permitting delays, and reduce the US’ dependence on China for critical minerals.

Nickel and cobalt are two key ingredients in the production of lithium-ion batteries that power EVs and provide renewable energy storage. As battery technologies transform the global mobility and energy landscape, the demand growth for these metals is expected to accelerate.

TechMet said: “While China has built a position of overwhelming supply chain dominance, the United States’ continued reliance on imports for the supply of critical metals represents a significant threat to the long-term competitiveness of American industry. TechMet, aligned with US interests, is committed to developing an independent supply of these critical metals.”

Brian Menell, Chairman and CEO of TechMet, said: “We are very pleased to have secured this funding and support from DFC, which enables Brazilian Nickel Plc to begin the commercial production of nickel and cobalt products used in the production of EV batteries. Having this level of US support is a great endorsement of TechMet’s team and strategy.”

Adam Boehler, CEO of the US International Development Finance Corp, a US Government agency, said: “This important financing will support economic growth in one of Brazil’s most underdeveloped areas. Investments in critical materials for advanced technology support development and advance US foreign policy.”

TechMet has been operational for three years and its core investments include:

  • Brazilian Nickel Plc;
  • Li-Cycle – lithium-ion battery recycling with a producing plant in Canada and a plant under construction in Rochester, New York;
  • US Vanadium – vanadium specialty chemicals production in Arkansas (USA); and
  • Tinco – one of the largest tin and tungsten mines in Rwanda.

TechMet also has an interest in a producing Rare Earths metals project and is developing TechMet Ventures to invest in new opportunities across the supply chain, it says.