Tag Archives: Crawford


Canada Nickel instructs Ausenco to kick off FEED stage at Crawford nickel project

Canada Nickel Company announced today that it has commenced Front End Engineering Design (FEED) at its Crawford Nickel Sulphide project, in Ontario, led by its long-term engineering partner Ausenco Engineering Canada ULC and supported by a number of engineering firms from the project’s feasibility study.

Mark Selby, CEO of Canada Nickel, said: “As we continue to successfully advance Crawford financing and permitting activities, we are confidently moving into this next phase of project development which maintains our targets of a mid-2025 construction decision and first production by year-end 2027 by sufficiently advancing engineering on a number of fronts.”

The FEED step in this next phase of project development is expected to be completed by August 2024. FEED activities will be supported by data collected during the 2024 winter geotechnical program, which is currently nearing completion. This program was focused on continuing to de-risk the project and acquiring sufficient data to allow a construction start once a decision has been made. This year’s activities were focused in the process plant, primary crushing, mine stockpile and tailings management areas.

These activities also included the driving of 24 test bearing-piles in the process plant and primary crusher areas which will be used for refining structural foundation designs.

The bankable feasibility study on Crawford outlined conventional open-pit mining techniques to mine 1,715 Mt ore and 3,992 Mt waste over a 33.5 year life, including 2.5 years of pre-stripping. Open-pit mining operations at Crawford will be performed by a mixed fleet of mining equipment. Areas where the footwall is in clay will be mined with 120-t-class backhoe excavators loading 40 t articulated trucks. Areas where the footwall is in sand and till will be mined with 300 t electric face shovels loading 90 t trucks. This will include clay contained in mixed clay/sand and till benches.

A bench height of 7.5 m will be employed to RL180 (approximately 90 m below the mean surface elevation), which is below the lowest horizon where overburden will be encountered. The 1,037 Mt of rock contained within these benches (63% of all 7.5 m bench material) will be mined predominantly with 700 t face shovels (Cat 6060 and Komatsu PC7000 cited). A lesser tonnage of rock will be loaded by 50 t payload wheel loaders (Komatsu WE1850) and 100 t payload rope shovels (Cat 7495 and Komatsu P&H 4100 cited). All three loading units will load 290 t trucks (the report cites the Caterpillar 794 or Komatsu 930E as examples) equipped with AHS and trolley assist.

The 4,047 Mt rock that will be mined below RL180 will be predominantly loaded by the rope shovels, supported by face shovels and front-end loaders. Over the life of mine, 2% of total rock will be loaded by wheel loaders, 30% by face shovels and the remaining 68% by rope shovels.

Peak production will be in year 11 when the 290 t fleet will total 56, loaded by three large rope shovels. Interestingly, to take full advantage of AHS haul trucks, which will not be delayed for operator delays, the 700 t face shovels and rope shovels will be operated tele-remotely. Additionally, an additional operator will be provided for each fleet per shift, to facilitate operator breaks. For example, at peak production there will be two 700 t face shovels and three rope shovels operational. These will be operated by a team of three face shovel operators and four shovel operators on each shift.

No drilling and blasting of overburden will be required. For pioneer operations on the initial bench of rock mining, small diesel powered and conventionally operated drills will be used to drill 127 mm blast holes. Below this initial bench, larger electrically powered units equipped with an autonomous drilling system (ADS) will be used for drilling 229 mm blast holes on 7.5 m benches and 271 mm blast holes on 15 m benches. Final walls will be pre-split. Pre-split holes will be drilled using the same machine as for pioneering.

Production equipment will be supported by various units of support equipment, including tracked dozers, wheel dozers, wheel loaders, graders, water tankers and utility excavators. A mining contractor will be used to expedite the start-up, with particular focus on sourcing aggregate from off-site and establishing the initial benches in clay. Thereafter, all mining fleet will be owner-operated.

Surface haul roads for the 290-t-class trucks will be 35 m wide. Where trolley assist is used on in-pit ramps, the width will be 50 m, which allows for trolley infrastructure and an extra lane to pass any vehicle (including service vehicles) that may be stopped under the trolley line. Other roads will measure 15 m wide.

Electrical demand in the pit will peak at 70 MW (operating load) in year 13 and average 30 MW over the life of mine. The main customer will be the trolley assist system, consuming 62% of the total kilowatt-hours. The in-pit dewatering system will consume a further 9%, while workshops and the blasting plant require 1%. The remaining 28% will be consumed by mobile electric equipment, including blast hole drills, face shovels and rope shovels. Extending power to the various units of electric equipment will require a network of overhead lines that progressively extends, with a total of 68.7 km installed over the life of mine. This total includes 19 km of lines that will have been previously removed and reinstalled. Mobile electrical equipment (shovels and drills) and pumps will be supplied from mobile substations that are mounted on skids or wheels and can be towed by a wheel dozer.

Canada Nickel retained the technology consultant Peck Tech to assist with the design and implementation of ADS and AHS. It also retained the global technology company ABB to assist with the design and implementation of trolley-assisted truck haulage. It says, collectively, these technologies will achieve a reduction in the unit mining operating cost of 26%, with attendant impact on the economic limits of open-pit mining; plus a reduction in the open-pit labour component of 33%. The jobs being eliminated are lower skilled equipment operator positions that peer operations are having difficulty filling. These positions will be partially replaced by higher skilled positions associated with the implementation and maintenance of technology.

At Crawford, ADS machines would be supervised remotely in an office control room, or locally (ie in the pit) via a tablet. The nominal span of control will be one supervisor for every three operating ADS units. The report estimates that there are approximately 100 ADS equipped machines operating globally, with 80% supplied by Epiroc. Epiroc’s PV271 is cited as a blasthole drill option along with the Sandvik DR412i.

As at other autonomous haulage mines, at Crawford, AHS machines would be supervised by a team of engineers, technicians, coders, ‘runners’ (who monitor the status of equipment in the pit), and dispatchers. As some positions require a fixed number of personnel, irrespective of the number of operational units, and other positions require additional personnel if the total fleet exceeds a certain number, the overall span of control varies. For Crawford’s mine plan, the life of mine average is seven trucks per person, per shift.

With the energy prices that have been forecast for Crawford, the energy savings through use of trolley is estimated at C$31/km travelled. Productivity savings result from the increased speed of haul trucks traveling uphill on trolley. For the class of truck planned at Crawford, a doubling of speed on trolley is possible. This would lead to an overall reduction in average cycle time over the life of mine of 14%. This allows the mine plan to be achieved with fewer trucks, with the additional benefit of reducing congestion associated with ‘bunching’ of units. Maintenance wise, with the lower diesel consumption rate for a truck travelling on trolley, the interval between overhauls and replacements can be extended.

In addition to the cost benefits listed above, trolley assist also has significantly environmental benefits, resulting from the reduction in particulate matter and greenhouse gases associated with generating energy from hydrocarbons. In the event trolley assist were not used at Crawford, diesel consumption by the fleet of 290 t trucks would approximately double leading to a 53% increase in CO2 emissions.

Eight of the 10 mining stages would include trolley-assist infrastructure, with just the small East Zone starter phases EZ1 and EZ2 not having sufficient travel on the ramps to justify the technology. Trolley assist will also be provided to each of the stockpiles and to the waste rock impoundment.

The report adds: “A key assumption in the design, based on operating experience at Palabora and Sishen, is that steady-state utilization of each trolley equipped ramp (measured in percentage of potential tonnes x equipped kilometres) would be 90%. It was also assumed each new in-pit segment would take 18 months to reach this utilisation, with a key constraint being the time required to open a bench sufficiently that fly rock from blasting would not damage the system. For the dump, where no blasting would take place, the time required to reach steady-state was assumed to be 12 months. Over the life of mine, 73% of total uphill tonnes x kilometres travelled by the 290 t trucks would be on trolley-assist. The smaller 90 t and articulated trucks will not be equipped for trolley assist.”

Canada Nickel progresses carbon capture and storage test work for Crawford

Canada Nickel Company Inc says the latest test work on material from its Crawford project, in Ontario, Canada, supports the incorporation of carbon capture and storage into the develoment.

The company has devised an In-Process Tailings (IPT) Carbonation process, which, it says, is a novel method for accelerated carbon capture and storage that it believes has transformative potential.

The latest test work conducted at Kingston Process Metallurgy (KPM) confirmed that existing process streams can be used for IPT Carbonation, which the company believes should allow it to be timely and cost effectively engineered and incorporated into the project flowsheet.

Crawford is hosted in ultramafic rock, which naturally absorbs and sequesters CO2, according to the company, with the potential to actively capture and sequester carbon being a key consideration in Canada Nickel’s acquisition of the 42 sq.km of target ultramafic rocks in the Timmins area.

Canada Nickel has developed an active process that uses tailings as generated in the milling process and injects a concentrated source of CO2 for a brief period of time. This process, IPT Carbonation, fixes CO2 geologically while the tailings are still in the processing circuit, rather than after they have been finally deposited.

The company believes that, given its relative simplicity, this process could be scaled up with availability of concentrated (rather than atmospheric) sources of CO2, with the CO2 potentially delivered by downstream processing of Crawford concentrates, a wide range of industrial processing activities, green hydrogen production, or carbon capture facilities.

Canada Nickel said: “The process demonstrates the potential to produce NetZero Nickel™ and NetZero Cobalt™ for the electric vehicle industry, NetZero Iron™ and chromium for the stainless steel industry and generate substantial carbon credits during the process. The company believes that the need for a concentrated source of CO2 for this process and the substantial CO2 capture and storage capacity potential of its ultramafic land position could form the basis for an entire Zero Carbon Industrial Cluster in the Timmins-Cochrane region.”

The latest results from further lab-scale testing at KPM confirmed that a blend of tailings expected to be produced by Crawford and thickened to an expected operating tailings density could be successfully carbonated with the IPT Carbonation process, the company said. This is a significant result to demonstrate the process at higher solids densities as the pulp density and the tailings residence time will be a key driver of the process capital and operating costs, it explained.

The testing also attempted to understand what ultimate carbon capture potential is possible and the test resulted in 37 t of CO2 captured per tonne of nickel – 34 t of that amount was captured within 25 hours. The 37 t figure is believed to represent a potential maximum and there is no certainty that such amount could be achieved in commercial operation, the company said.

As a result of these results, the integrated feasibility study for the project is expected to be delivered in the June quarter of 2023. This delay, the company says, has no impact on the overall timeline to production, with Canada Nickel continuing to target receipt of permits by mid-2025 with construction to follow.

Mark Selby, Chair and CEO of Canada Nickel, said: “We believe the Crawford project has the potential to be a case study in how critical minerals are developed in Ontario and Canada. Crawford is poised to support the energy transition through the large-scale production of critical minerals, including nickel and cobalt, and to become the sole North American producer of chromium, while also supporting the country’s climate objectives through large-scale carbon capture and storage.”

The company believes the successful incorporation of IPT Carbonation could also potentially allow a portion of its project capital expenditures to become eligible for the carbon capture and storage refundable investment tax credits of 37.5% to 60% from 2022-30 and 18.75% to 30% from 2031-40 announced in the 2022 federal budget documents in Canada.

Selby added: “We look forward to continuing our positive momentum in 2023 as we complete this integrated feasibility study for Crawford, continue to successfully advance the Crawford permitting process, work with our recently appointed financial advisors to advance its overall financing package and aggressively advance our recently acquired Texmont property with its potential for near-term production. We are also excited by our successful tests of the regional exploration potential at Reid, Deloro, Sothman and Reaume which, as they are hosted in the same mineralisation as Crawford, offer the same potential for integrated carbon capture and storage – setting the stage for a Zero Carbon Industrial Cluster in the Timmins-Cochrane region.”

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.

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.