Tag Archives: cobalt

Wood’s cobalt and copper refining expertise tapped for Jervois ICO project

Having recently sewn up the lead engineers for finalisation of a bankable feasibility study (BFS) at its 100%-owned ICO cobalt-copper project in Idaho, US, Jervois Mining has selected Wood as its preferred engineering contractor to progress the refinery scoping study at the project.

The ICO, planned to be the only domestic cobalt mine within the US, is expected to commence commercial concentrate production in the second half of 2021.

Jervois said Wood has expertise in the refining of sulphide concentrates through to both battery-grade crystal and refined LME copper and 99.8% LMB cobalt metal, which will be of use in this study. The company said: “Wood is well placed to lead the engineering study which includes an initial high-level review of commercially available technology for the refining of sulphide concentrates through to metal.”

Battery recycling technology and third-party feed processing will also be considered to highlight future market opportunities that may enhance the refineries strategic importance within the US and further improve the economic returns, Jervois said.

Mineralogy and metallurgical test work progressing at SGS will optimise the selective cobalt concentrate chemical characteristics and be applied in the flowsheet options study.

“As part of the current feasibility study being led by DRA and M3, preliminary results obtained from the SGS test work have achieved satisfactory separation and selectivity between copper and cobalt,” Jervois said, adding that locked cycle tests are planned to define the improved selectivity.

The Wood refinery study will be completed during the March quarter in conjunction with the previously announced feasibility study to concentrate.

Canada Cobalt looks for vertical integration with PolyMet Resources deal

Canada Cobalt Works has widened its processing options for both its Castle and Beaver projects, in the Cobalt Camp of northern Ontario, Canada, with the acquisition of a permitted and operating mineral and precious metal processing facility.

The company has signed a letter of intent to acquire the assets of PolyMet Resources Inc, owner of ISO-certified PolyMet Labs and the Cobalt Camp’s only permitted and operating mineral and precious metal processing facility, it said.

The C$650,000 ($491,861) transaction, expected to be made up of cash and shares, provides the company with “multiple immediate and long-term advantages”, it said. This includes a high capacity bullion melting furnace to pour payable silver and gold doré bars. The 23,400 sq.ft (2,174 sq.m) facility has sampling and analytical capabilities and can also host the company’s proprietary Re-2OX Process for environmentally-friendly extraction of cobalt, precious and base metals, it said.

Re-2OX skips the normal smelting process to create battery-grade cobalt sulphate, according to Canada Cobalt Works, with the company earlier this year saying it planned to submit a patent application to protect the technology.

The transaction will see the lab and mineral processing facility become the new headquarters of Canada Cobalt. This facility is located in the town of Cobalt, immediately adjacent to a rail line and just a short distance from the company’s Castle mine and Beaver properties.

The company said: “This well-established sampling and analytical facility, specialising in high-grade mineralisation, provides commercial assaying, crushing, screening, grinding, bulk sampling, upgrading and smelting services all in one location, driving multiple revenue streams at a time when gold prices in Canadian dollars have hit new record highs.”

According to the company, PolyMet has demonstrated that in an eight-hour shift, it can pour up to 10 doré silver bars of 1,000 oz each (90% to 95% fine).

“PolyMet is currently making inroads into the potentially lucrative e-waste business that can be leveraged through Canada Cobalt, its extensive relationships and its Re-2OX Process,” Canada Cobalt said. “Material from mixed computer boards is being processed through the facility’s shredder and ball mill to recover precious and base metals.”

Frank Basa, President and CEO of Canada Cobalt, said: “This deal builds dramatically on Canada Cobalt’s current competitive advantages and opportunities – technological, on the ground and underground – in a rejuvenated silver-cobalt district recognised as the birthplace of Canadian hard-rock mining.

“With such a unique and fully operational facility in the town of Cobalt, so close to the Castle mine and other properties, Canada Cobalt achieves a key goal of becoming a vertically integrated leader in Canada’s silver-cobalt heartland while it also exploits a powerful new cycle in precious metals.”

Gino Chitaroni, Majority Owner of PolyMet Resources, said: “We see some really exciting synergies here. Canada Cobalt’s track record of success in this district made them the perfect fit to take the PolyMet Lab and facility to the next level while I remain involved to assist Canada Cobalt from an operational standpoint.”

He continued: “Bullion pouring, bulk sampling, commercial assaying and e-waste are PolyMet’s four key immediate profit centres that merge with Canada Cobalt, creating powerful new synergies. Hosting Re-2OX and accelerating the development of such a unique and environmentally friendly process at this facility is a major coup for the town of Cobalt and the broader district.”

Opening speaker and keynotes secured for ALTA 2020

The ALTA 2020 conference is shaping up nicely, with new opening and keynote speakers just announced for its 25th anniversary event.

Stedman Ellis, Chief Executive Officer of Future Battery Industries CRC (Australia), is set to open the conference with a paper titled, “A Research-Based Strategy for Establishing Australia as a Leading Player in the Emerging Global Battery Industry”.

Meanwhile, John Neale, Technical Specialist at Mintek (South Africa), is set to take on the nickel-cobalt-copper keynote with a talk titled: ‘Bioleaching of Nickel and Cobalt – The Progress and The Potential’.

The annual metallurgical event, to be held in Perth, Western Australia, on May 23-30, will also include a uranium-REE keynote from Darryl Butcher, Director of BDB Process (Australia). Butcher will present, ‘Review of Membrane Technology as a Process Tool’ at the event. The gold and precious metal keynote will come from Karel Osten, Independent Consultant at Mettko Pty Ltd (Australia), who will go some way to answering: ‘POX – Has it Reached its Full Potential, or is There Still Room for Improvement for Treating Refractory Gold Ores?’

The in-situ recovery keynote is yet to be announced, but Professor Peter Talbot, from the Institute for Future Environments at Queensland University of Technology (Australia), has the honour in the lithium and battery technology session. His paper is titled: ‘The Creation and Implications of Australia’s First Lithium-Ion Battery’.

For more information on ALTA 2020, follow the website here: www.altamet.com.au/conferences/alta-2020/

International Mining is a media sponsor of ALTA 2020

DRA Global and M3 Engineering on board Jervois ICO cobalt-copper project

Jervois Mining says it has selected DRA Global and M3 Engineering as lead engineers for finalisation of a bankable feasibility study (BFS) for its 100%-owned ICO cobalt-copper project in Idaho, US.

The selection of engineers comes only two months after Jervois got its hands on the project following a completed merger with eCobalt.

Jervois said: “DRA and M3 have extensive study and construction experience across all the relevant unit operations for the ICO, providing a strong basis for successful BFS delivery. They were chosen due to their strong track record with relevant process plant studies as well as construction and operating implementation phases, as Jervois looks to move seamlessly into construction after BFS and project financing close.”

The joint engineering team has extensive global experience across both cobalt and copper mining operations and concentrator flowsheets, while also having a detailed understanding of project delivery in the US, specifically local conditions in Idaho and regional contractor capabilities, Jervois said.

Finalisation of the BFS will be based on a flotation mill processing 1,200 short tonnes per day (1,089 t/d) of ore, as well as ancillary facilities. The project will ultimately consist of an underground cobalt-copper mine, a flotation mill processing 1,200 st/d as well as ancillary facilities. The latter will include aspects such as the mine and related infrastructure, run of mine pad and crushers, fine ore conveyor and silo, mill and flotation, tailings, waste rock and water storage facilities, water treatment plant, soil stockpile area, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System discharge outfall and non-process infrastructure to support the development and mine operations.

Jervois expects the BFS will be concluded in the March quarter of 2020 and summarised in a NI 43-101 compliant feasibility study soon after. The company has commenced a diamond core drilling program at ICO to supply metallurgical samples for test work to support the BFS update, and to infill drill the RAM deposit during initial years of envisaged mining operation.

ICO will initially produce and sell separate cobalt and copper concentrates as Jervois formed a view early in its due diligence of ICO that reversion to separate concentrates was commercially necessary in the absence of a US refinery. In comparison to the partially completed mine and mill, the refinery is at a preliminary level of study and technical certainty, and so cannot be realistically constructed within the same timeframe as mine to concentrate.

Jervois has commenced discussions with offtake partners for an initial period covering mine ramp up and stabilisation. Jervois will also commission a refinery engineering study to consider commercially proven technology to process concentrates, including third party feed through to refined cobalt and copper.

With the ICO BFS team now established, DRA and M3 will progress the engineering design for the process plant and infrastructure. In parallel, Jervois has commenced discussions with potential lenders and a data room is being prepared to facilitate due diligence. Upon project financing close and opening of the ICO mine portal and decline, Jervois expects a 12-month construction period with first saleable concentrate in the second half of 2021

Ausenco to lead First Cobalt refinery restart study

First Cobalt Corp, following a finance agreement with Glencore, has started to award key contracts to complete a 55 t/d feasibility study on the proposed expansion of its cobalt refinery.

Field work is expected to commence in September and will culminate in the delivery of a definitive feasibility study (DFS) in the March quarter, the company said.

Ausenco Engineering Canada will lead the preparation of a DFS for a refinery restart at 55 t/d with SGS carrying out advanced metallurgical test work on cobalt hydroxide and a specialty cobalt feed to be supplied by Glencore, Knight Piésold conducting tailings studies in support of the DFS, Story Environmental taking on the environmental and permitting aspects of the engineering studies and Glencore providing technical support throughout the study phase through its Sudbury-based affiliate, XPS – Expert Process Solutions.

In addition to the delivery of the DFS on a 55 t/d refinery restart, a prefeasibility study (PFS) on a 12 t/d interim operating scenario will also be conducted.

First Cobalt recently announced it had entered into a $5 million loan facility with Glencore to complete advanced engineering, metallurgical testing, field work and permitting associated with a recommissioning and expansion of the refinery. Upon completion of a positive DFS for the expansion, and subject to certain other terms and conditions, Glencore is prepared to advance an additional $40 million to recommission and expand the refinery, according to First Cobalt.

Trent Mell, First Cobalt President & CEO, said: “The First Cobalt Refinery is a permitted facility that is in excellent condition and has a recent operating history. Our strategy is to work with Glencore to expand the refinery to serve the growing needs of the North American electric vehicle market. To that end, we have partnered with a first-rate study team appropriate for the importance of the task at hand.”

First Cobalt edges closer to refinery restart after signing Glencore term sheet

First Cobalt Corp says it has agreed on a term sheet with Glencore that could see the First Cobalt Refinery in Ontario, Canada, recommissioned as early as next year.

The agreement outlines a non-dilutive, fully funded, phased approach to recommissioning the refinery remains subject to several conditions, First Cobalt said.

The First Cobalt Refinery is a hydrometallurgical cobalt refinery in the Canadian Cobalt Camp, a cluster that was historically mined for primarily silver, but is now being evaluated for cobalt. It is the only permitted primary cobalt refinery in North America, according to the company.

Phase 1 of this term sheet entails a $5 million loan from Glencore to support additional metallurgical testing, engineering, cost estimating, field work, and permitting associated with the recommissioning of the refinery. Within this amount is funding for a definitive feasibility study for a 55 t/d refinery expansion.

Phase 2 envisions commissioning the refinery at a feed rate of 12 t/d in 2020 to produce a battery-grade cobalt sulphate for prequalification for the electric vehicle supply chain, while Phase 3 involves an expansion of the refinery to a 55 t/d rate by 2021. This uses the current site infrastructure and buildings, and was detailed in a previous report by Ausenco, which estimated that First Cobalt could produce 5,000 t/y of contained cobalt in sulphate assuming cobalt hydroxide feed grading 30% cobalt.

The total capital investment under the three phases is estimated at around $45 million, with Phases 2 and 3 remaining subject to the findings of the studies undertaken during Phase 1, First Cobalt clarified.

Trent Mell, First Cobalt President & Chief Executive Officer, said: “Transitioning to cash flow as a North American refiner is our primary focus and today’s news demonstrates that we are moving closer to achieving that objective. Glencore has been supportive throughout the process and we look forward to working closely with their technical team on a successful execution.

“This partnership will help First Cobalt achieve its stated objective of providing ethically-sourced battery-grade cobalt for the North American electric vehicle market. An operating refinery in North America can benefit all North American cobalt projects, as it significantly reduces the capital cost of putting a new mine into production.”

The framework follows a memorandum of understanding signed by the companies back in May.

First Cobalt will also enter into a services agreement with XPS – Expert Process Solutions, a Sudbury-based metallurgical consulting, technology and testing facility affiliated with Glencore, in order to provide technical support to the First Cobalt team. A tendering process is nearing completion to designate lead third-party firms to oversee advanced metallurgical testing, the feasibility study and permitting, First Cobalt said.

RNC Minerals studying trolley assist, automation at Dumont nickel-cobalt project

The latest feasibility study on RNC Minerals’ jointly-owned Dumont nickel-cobalt asset in Quebec, Canada, has identified the potential for both electrification and automation of the open-pit haulage fleet at the project.

The DFS, completed by Ausenco, showed that initial nickel production at Dumont could come in at 33,000 t/y, before ramping up to 50,000 t/y in a phase two expansion. This would result in some 1.2 Mt of nickel in concentrate output over the 30-year life, with an initial capital expenditure estimate of $1 billion.

This initial investment would be paid back with a $920 million after-tax net present value (NPV, 8% discount) and 15.4% post-tax internal rate of return, factoring in a nickel price of $7.75/Ib (>$17,000/t) and a US$/C$ exchange rate of 0.75, the company said.

Dumont, as envisaged in the DFS, would use conventional drilling and blasting, with loading by a combination of hydraulic excavators and electric rope shovels into trucks ranging in size from 45 t to 290 t. The process plant will be constructed in two phases. Phase one will have an initial average throughput of 52,500 t/d using a single SAG mill and two ball mills for grinding, desliming using cyclones, conventional flotation and magnetic separation, to produce a nickel concentrate also containing cobalt and PGEs. Phase two throughput will be doubled to 105,000 t/d in year seven by mirroring the first line.

Around 42 Mt of overburden will be pre-stripped prior to start-up of operations. The life-of-mine plan excavates 2,100 Mt of material, including 1,000 Mt of ore, over an open-pit life of 24 years. After open-pit operations cease in year 24, 398 Mt of stockpiled ore will remain to support continued production through year 30.

One of the noticeable changes to the previous feasibility study from 2013 was the electrification of the fleet in the mine plan.

The company, which jointly owns Dumont with Arpent Inc, currently plans to increase the electrification of Dumont by incorporating trolley assist on the planned main ramps. RNC said this will reduce cycle times, and reduce diesel consumption by over 35% (approximate reduction of 450 million litres over the life of mine), which, in turn, will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 1.2 Mt of CO2 equivalent, the company said.

And, among three “additional upside opportunities” listed in the DFS highlights was the use of haulage automation, which could potentially improve the NPV by some $75-115 million, the company estimated.

RNC said: “As autonomous equipment has been employed in open pits for over a decade and the global fleet currently approximates a combined 400 units of haul trucks and blasthole drills, automation is rapidly becoming proven technology.”

As a result, the company engaged an industry expert, Peck Tech Consulting, to assess the suitability of Dumont for automation.

“Based on Peck Tech’s prefeasibility-level assessment, the implementation of an Autonomous Haulage System could reduce the peak truck fleet by 20% and reduce site-wide all-in sustaining costs by over 3%,” RNC said.

“Further potential could be achieved with an Autonomous Drilling System (ADS),” the company added, saying it is continuing discussions with various mining equipment suppliers to understand the impacts and benefits in greater detail.

Lycopodium to lead PFS for battery materials refinery project

Queensland Pacific Metals (QPM) has appointed Lycopodium Minerals Pty as the Lead Engineer for the prefeasibility study on the Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub (TECH) project in Queensland, Australia.

Pure Minerals, the parent company of QPM, said: “With the acquisition of QPM being approved by shareholders and in the process of being finalised, Pure Minerals is excited to launch its planned battery materials refinery as the Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub.”

The TECH project will produce nickel and cobalt sulphate chemicals required for the battery energy storage sector, with QPM immediately commencing the PFS for a 600,000 t/y battery materials refinery producing approximately 25,000 t/y of nickel sulphate and 3,000 t/y of cobalt sulphate and other valuable co-products, Pure Minerals said.

The previous scoping study envisaged annual primary production of around 25,400 t/y of nickel sulphate and 3,000 t/y of cobalt sulphate (containing 5,760 t of nickel and 630 t of cobalt), alongside some 221,000 t/y of hematite, 8,700 t/y of alumina and 4,600 t/y of magnesium oxide. This came with construction capital costs of $297 million.

Lycopodium Minerals Pty is a subsidiary of well-regarded engineering company, Lycopodium, which has experience applicable to the TECH project, according to Pure.

This includes:

  • Being highly active in the battery metals space, having undertaken many feasibility studies for clients in nickel, cobalt, lithium and graphite;
  • Completing a feasibility study for Direct Nickel Projects Pty or a nominal processing plant using the DNi Process™ (a pilot plant example from CSIRO pictured), which the TECH project will be using, and;
  • Completing feasibility studies for other nickel projects incorporating downstream processing to produce battery chemicals, including BHP’s Nickel West project and Cleanteq’s Sunrise project.

The key responsibilities for Lycopodium under its contract with QPM are process, process services and utilities design and engineering; preparation of project capital and operating cost estimates; and compilation of the PFS report, including integration of studies relating to other work packages.

Lycopodium has also agreed to accept shares in Pure Minerals as consideration for around 20% of its estimated fees, according to Pure Minerals.

The PFS is expected to be completed in the September quarter.

Lycopodium Minerals Managing Director, Rod Leonard, said: “The outlook for battery metals is positive and Lycopodium is well positioned to carry out this body of work, having completed a wide range of studies for major, mid-tier and junior clients in this space.”

Canada Cobalt Works moves to protect Re-2OX process following SGS testing

Canada Cobalt Works says it has made important breakthroughs in its proprietary and environmentally green Re-2OX process for the recovery of cobalt, precious metals and base metals, and will look to submit a patent application to protect the technology.

New testing using SGS Lakefield in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, has highlighted further optimisation of Re-2OX can allow the recovery of silver and copper for the first time, while also increasing the recovery rates for cobalt and nickel.

“In refining the Re-2OX process through a one-step leach extraction, overseen by Canada Cobalt adviser Dr Ron Molnar, SGS has recovered >99% cobalt, >99% silver, 99% nickel and 99% copper while removing 99% of arsenic from a composite of gravity concentrates,” the company said.

The gravity concentrates tested at SGS were from the historic Castle mine, in Ontario, classified as waste material and grading 10.2% Co, 11,000 g/t Ag, 0.26% Cu, 1.49% Ni and 45.1% arsenic.

Re-2OX skips the normal smelting process to create battery-grade cobalt sulphate, according to Canada Cobalt Works. The company said nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) battery-grade formulations are also in the pipeline.

“In addition, the ability of Re-2OX to achieve exceptionally high recovery rates for both cobalt and silver, plus nickel and copper, while also removing 99% of arsenic, expands the potential of the Castle mine given Phase 1 underground results released February 19, 2019, and a second phase starting soon,” the company said. “Furthermore, Re-2OX is a value-driver for the company’s planned tailings programs at Castle and elsewhere in the district, and will also be used by Canada Cobalt to immediately build a new model of ‘streaming’ opportunities for the company with respect to other battery metal projects while protecting the process.”

Given the current optimisation level of Re-2OX, and the growing importance of this hydrometallurgical process to Canada Cobalt and its shareholders, the company has now initiated the process of submitting a patent application for this proprietary metal extraction method.

Frank J Basa, Canada Cobalt President and CEO, said: “The fact that SGS has demonstrated that Re-2OX can very efficiently recover a broad set of metals from arsenic-rich material, ranging from low grade to high grade, further de-risks the Castle mine project and expands opportunities to build shareholder value. Further Re-2OX optimisation will target the recovery of gold.”

Panoramic’s Savannah nickel-copper-cobalt project rises again

The first shipment of bulk nickel-copper-cobalt concentrate from Panoramic Resources’ recently recommissioned Savannah project, in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, has departed Wyndham bound for Lianyungang, China, the company says.

The MV Heemskerkgracht (pictured) departed with 7,735 t (wet) of concentrate on-board, with a preliminary invoice value of approximately A$ 8.6 million ($6.1 million), Panoramic reported.

Panoramic’s Managing Director, Peter Harold, said: “It is wonderful to see Savannah concentrate being shipped again from Wyndham. This is a significant milestone in the recommissioning of the mine and processing plant at Savannah and I would like to thank the team at Savannah for their efforts to get the project going again.”

Panoramic successfully commissioned the $65 million Savannah project in late 2004 and then, in 2005, purchased and restarted the Lanfranchi nickel project, near Kambalda. In its 2014 financial year, the company produced a record 22,256 t of contained nickel and produced 19,301 t contained nickel in the year after.

The Lanfranchi and Savannah projects were placed on care and maintenance in November 2015 and May 2016, respectively, pending a sustained recovery in the nickel price.

After delivering an updated feasibility study on Savannah in October 2017, securing an offtake customer and putting in place project financing in July 2018, the company made the decision to restart operations at Savannah. The Lanfranchi project was sold, in December 2018, for a total cash consideration of A$15.1 million, providing additional financial support for the reopening of the Savannah project.

Savannah is expected to ramp up to full production over 15 months to a forecast life of mine average annual production rate of 10,800 t of nickel, 6,100 t of copper and 800 t of cobalt metal contained in concentrate.