Tag Archives: nickel

Hatch identifies opportunities to cut Australian tailings generation by as much as 30%

A new report from multi-disciplinary engineering, operational and development project, Hatch, estimates Australia’s mining waste can be reduced by 30% using already available technologies.

One of the biggest challenges currently facing the mining industry is managing the volume of tailings generated as minerals mining ramps up to meet the demands of the transition to renewable energy.

Undertaking an in-depth analysis to identify the technologies required to reduce or eliminate tailings of six key commodities (copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, coal and bauxite), Hatch investigated how tailings production would be impacted by applying the key technologies ‘themes’: advanced geometallurgy, ore sorting, advanced sensing and particle sorting, in-situ extraction, and preferential fracturing.

The company’s analysis revealed that technologies available today could reduce tailings by 20-30%, also identifying that, in the next 10-20 years, the integration of these technologies in future projects or expansions could provide an opportunity to reduce tailings by more than 50%.

Managing Director of Australia and Asia at Hatch, Jan Kwak (pictured), says the challenge of reducing tailings is a complex effort that is best solved utilising the innovative capacity of the entire mining supply chain.

“A balanced spread of researchers, METS (mining equipment, technology and services) companies, and operators in the mining industry are actively commercialising technologies,” he said. “Half (50%) of stakeholders identified are METS companies, whose core business is the supply of equipment and services of these technologies, indicating commercialisation is underway. This group was also present across the technologies that our analysis has shown to have higher TRLs (Technology Readiness Levels).”

The TRL ranking system measures the maturity of technologies, whereby Hatch graded technologies from zero (idea stage) to nine (commercial application).

For in-situ mining and preferential fracturing technology themes, there is a larger representation of research organisations and partnerships. This suggests collaboration is required to advance technological development, according to Hatch.

“It is vital that these stakeholders are highly engaged in the tailings reduction challenge in order to achieve the greatest cut through and introduce real change and advancement in the reduction of tailings, which will be needed to support the increase in mining activity while meeting emissions reduction targets,” added Kwak.

BacTech Environmental building up to bioleaching pilot plant milestone

BacTech Environmental Corp, an environmental technology company delivering eco-friendly bioleaching and remediation solutions for precious metal and critical mineral recovery, says it is advancing its Sudbury pilot plant development for nickel-cobalt and ‘green’ iron recovery with plans for the plant to be operational in July.

Dr Nadia Mykytczuk, a leader in biomining technology, member of BacTech’s advisory board and Interim CEO and President of MIRARCO Mining Innovation, is leading the development and building of a bioleach pilot plant to be located in Sudbury, Canada.

Working closely with BacTech’s scientific team, the plant is for the testing of bioleaching processes like the company’s proposed approach for pyrrhotite treatment. The pilot plant will simulate a commercial bioleach process consisting of a cascade of reactors operating on a continuous basis. The plant will also include front and back-end equipment operating as separate units for capturing additional revenue sources beyond nickel-cobalt (eg elemental sulphur, iron as feed for steel making and oxidised residue conversion for construction materials).

The proposed pilot plant is expected to be operational by July. One reactor has been 100% completed to date and is being used to test select concentrates from BacTech’s Tenguel project in Ecuador.

On April 7, BacTech announced it had filed a provisional patent application documenting its proposed approach to bioleaching pyrrhotite materials. Pyrrhotite is a very volatile sulphide mineral containing nickel and cobalt values that oxidises rapidly and produces large amounts of iron and sulphur components as by-products, which are typically considered as wastes. The pilot plant is part of Dr Mykytczuk’s larger effort to establish the future Centre for Mine Waste Biotechnology, a facility focused on scale-up and commercialisation of biotechnologies to help extract value and reduce impacts from mine wastes.

The object is to use this pilot facility to obtain the design data necessary to establish a fully integrated tonnage-based demonstration plant, which would then lead towards full-scale commercialisation. The production of value-added materials from the iron and sulphur and oxidised residue, which would normally be disposed of as waste, differentiates this process from other pyrrhotite bioleach endeavours which only target nickel and cobalt production, BacTech says.

On May 11, 2022, the Canadian government announced a C$10.9 million ($8.5 million) fund to assist with the construction of pilot plants and projects to support the development of critical mineral value chains. The Sudbury Basin hosts up to 100 Mt of pyrrhotite tailings deposited over the past 90 years of mining estimated to contain on average 0.8% Ni and 0.03% Co, according to BacTech.

“We are very happy to see the government stepping up and providing capital for pilot stage plants in the critical metals space,” Ross Orr, President and CEO of BacTech, said. “This is probably the most difficult capital to obtain at the R&D stage, as the demands are much greater than a typical lab setup. We will definitely be answering the Canadian Government’s call for proposals. In addition to reactors and other equipment, we need to conduct studies on the pre- bioleach phase as well as recovery of metals from solution at the back-end.”

BacTech’s scientific path is to develop an innovative zero-carbon liberation and extraction approach to separating iron from its ore, in addition to optimising nickel-cobalt recovery efforts. BacTech says it believes its method answers the need raised by the Canadian Government and to accelerate the sustainable extraction and processing of critical minerals from existing mine tailings and invest in domestic production.

Orr concluded: “Providing the solution to the complex pyrrhotite issue in the Sudbury Basin would be a tremendous win for BacTech and its shareholders. Having completed an applicable year-long bioleach study with great results some 20 years ago gives us the confidence that we can succeed. The complementary technologies that we hope to now use were not available to us back in the late 1990s and should allow us to commercialise and sell multiple end-products derived from the pyrrhotite source.”

Horizonte enlists Copa Construção SA for Araguaia ferronickel project earthworks

Horizonte Minerals, a nickel development company focused in Brazil, has awarded the earthworks contract for the construction of its 100%-owned Araguaia ferronickel project to Copa Construção SA.

Copa is a leading Brazilian company with extensive experience in mining projects and civil infrastructure, ranging from roads, viaducts, hydroelectric power plants, ports, airports and transmission lines, Horizonte explained. Copa has a portfolio of more than 2,500 cu.m of concrete installed throughout the country and has a quality management certification.

Awarding the earthworks contract is an important step in the construction of Araguaia. The scope of the contract incorporates the process plant and supporting infrastructure components of the bulk earthworks for the ferronickel plant. The contract scope is designed to ensure the site is ready for the civil construction works on completion, and will see Copa levelling the main plant area, creating a series of stepped plateaus that will support the key process equipment packages and buildings, installing initial drainage facilities, as well as the main ramp and crusher platform.

CEO of Horizonte, Jeremy Martin, said: “We are delighted to welcome Copa as a key partner for the construction of our Araguaia Project. With Copa’s strong track record of successfully delivering infrastructure projects across the country, signing this contract enables us to commence construction at the beginning of the dry season this quarter as planned.

“This is another important milestone in our 24-month project construction timeline, with next steps being the award of the civil works, 230 kV powerline and electromechanical construction contracts. We look forward to keeping the market updated on developments at site.”

The Araguaia project comprises an open-pit nickel laterite mining operation that delivers ore from a number of pits to a central rotary kiln electric furnace (RKEF) metallurgical processing facility. The metallurgical process comprises a single line RKEF to extract FeNi from the ore. After an initial ramp-up period, the plant will reach a full capacity of approximately 900,000 t/y of dry ore feed to produce 52,000 t of ferronickel, in turn containing 14,500 t/y of nickel. The FeNi product will be transported by road to the port of Vila do Conde in the north of the State for sale to overseas customers.

First Quantum board signs off development of Kansanshi S3 Expansion, Enterprise nickel project

The First Quantum Minerals Ltd Board of Directors has signed off on the S3 Expansion at the Kansanshi mine and the Enterprise nickel project, both in Zambia.

The approval will lead to work on both projects starting immediately, with the company re-commencing detailed engineering works for the S3 Expansion to determine purchase orders for key long-lead items, including the SAG mill, ball mill and in-pit crushing station; and a mining contractor being mobilised for the Enterprise nickel project in order to commence pre-stripping of the pit in June 2022.

This could see Kansanshi’s life pushed out to 2044 with the introduction of new electrical loading and drilling equipment along with the extension of the current electric trolley assist infrastructure, with Enterprise contributing some 30,000 t/y of nickel concentrate in upcoming years.

“First Quantum has been working constructively with the Government of Zambia’s New Dawn administration as part of their efforts to reform the mining sector, attract investment and increase Zambia’s copper production,” Tristan Pascall, Chief Executive Officer, said. “The approval of the projects reflects First Quantum’s increased confidence in the investment climate in Zambia.”

The S3 Expansion and the Enterprise nickel project are a key part of the company’s brownfield growth strategy, according to Pascall.

“The Kansanshi mine has been a cornerstone asset for First Quantum for 15 years and the S3 Expansion will expand production and extend the mine life for another two decades,” he said. “The low-cost, high-grade Enterprise nickel project is well placed to supply the rapidly growing electric vehicle battery sector.

“The approval of these two projects is an important milestone for the company’s path towards responsible production growth of the metals needed for the global green energy transition.”

The approval of the projects follows the efforts of the New Dawn administration to enhance both the investment climate for mining and to seek commitments from the mining sector to contribute to the national economy and to corporate social responsibility, First Quantum says. These initiatives will help establish a platform for more stable, durable and responsible mining in Zambia.

The Government of Zambia’s commitments address the ease of doing business in Zambia, covering areas such as expediting immigration procedures in exchange for commitments for local employment levels, competitive pricing of power transmission and power procurement from independent sources which in turn will support renewable energy projects, and measures to ensure the ease of importing and exporting goods.

The approvals follow the re-introduction of the deductibility of mineral royalties for corporate income tax assessment purposes that became effective in January. This measure realigned Zambia with international best practice, according to First Quantum. The government’s commitment to improve the predictability of the mining fiscal regime also provides the certainty needed to support large capital investments in Zambia.

“Furthermore, First Quantum and the government have successfully resolved all points of contention that have been stumbling blocks to progress on the S3 Expansion and Enterprise nickel project,” it said. “This includes reaching agreement in respect to the outstanding value-added tax receivable sum and an approach for repayment based on offsets against future mining taxes and royalties.”

The S3 Expansion is expected to transition the current selective high-grade, medium-scale operation to a medium-grade, larger-scale mining operation that will be more appropriate for the higher proportion of primary, lower-grade sulphide ores at depth, First Quantum said. As outlined in the NI 43-101 Technical Report filed in September 2020, the S3 Expansion, when completed, will comprise of a standalone 25 Mt/y processing plant with a new larger mining fleet that will increase Kansanshi’s total annual throughput to 53 Mt/y.

Once the expansion is completed, copper production from Kansanshi is expected to average approximately 250,000 t/y for the remaining life of mine to 2044.

A significant portion of the initial construction works for the S3 Expansion have been previously undertaken with much of the civil and structural work on-site completed, First Quantum said. The remaining work includes completion of the remaining engineering design works, procurement and installation of equipment, electrics, controls and infrastructure. The S3 processing train will comprise of a 28 MW SAG mill and a 22 MW ball mill. The open-pit mine will be expanded to increase the supply of sulphide ore from the Main Pit and extend into the South East Dome deposit. The expanded mining fleet will use similar ultra-class equipment as First Quantum’s other key mines and will benefit from new electrical loading and drilling equipment along with the extension of the current electric trolley assist infrastructure, First Quantum said.

In parallel with the expansion of the mine and processing facilities, the company plans to increase the throughput capacity of the Kansanshi smelter from 1.38 Mt/y to 1.65 Mt/y of concentrate. This will enable the smelter to produce over 400,000 t/y of copper anode.

The total capital expenditures associated with the S3 Expansion is expected to be $1.25 billion, which includes $900 million on the S3 plant and mine fleet and $350 million for pre-stripping of the South East Dome pit. Approximately $800 million of this spending is included in the company’s current three-year guidance released on January 17, 2022, with the balance falling beyond the guidance period. First production from the S3 Expansion is expected in 2025.

The Enterprise nickel sulphide deposit is located 12 km northwest of the Sentinel copper mine. As outlined in the NI 43-101 Technical Report, filed in March 2020, proven and probable reserves at Enterprise total 34.7 Mt of ore at 0.99% Ni.

The Enterprise nickel project will consist of a single, main open pit and one extension to the southwest. It will use the existing 4 Mt/y nickel circuit that was previously built as part of the original Sentinel processing complex. The main workstream to bring the project online will be the pre-strip of waste. The development timeline for Enterprise is expected to be approximately 12 months. At full production, Enterprise is expected to produce an average of 30,000 t/y of nickel in high-grade concentrate.

The total capital expenditures associated with the Enterprise nickel project is expected to be approximately $100 million. Pre-stripping of the Enterprise pit of $60 million is included in the three-year guidance provided earlier this year along with $40 million related to infrastructure and plant commissioning. Expected first nickel production of 5,000-10,000 t of nickel in 2023 is included in the company’s three-year guidance.

GR Engineering to deliver feasibility study on Ta Khoa nickel project

Blackstone Minerals Ltd has appointed GR Engineering Services Ltd (GRES) as the primary consultant in the delivery of the Upstream Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) for its Ta Khoa nickel project (TKNP), in Vietnam.

As the primary consultant, GRES will focus on the delivery of major workstreams including process infrastructure, metallurgical test work and co-disposal tailings storage. GRES will also coordinate, collaborate with and collate information from other key workstreams including mining studies, Blackstone said.

Blackstone says GRES has a proven track record and relevant experience to deliver the TKNP DFS, having completed a DFS for OZ Minerals on its West Musgrave nickel project and completed engineering, procurement and construction work on the Cosmos Expansion project (Western Areas Ltd), the Nova Nickel project (now IGO Ltd), the Cosmic Boy nickel project (Western Areas) and the Sinclair nickel project (now Northern Star Resources Ltd).

Further, GRES provides full life-cycle engineering services from feasibility studies through to delivery of projects under both EPC and engineering, procurement and construction management models, Blackstone said.

Scott Williamson, Blackstone’s Managing Director, said: “GRES adds to an already impressive team of engineers that are contributing to the design and development of the Ta Khoa Project.

“Blackstone continues to de-risk its development strategy both from a technical and funding perspective, and looks forward to updating the market as we take key steps towards a final investment decision.”

The TKNP is 160 km west of Hanoi in the Son La Province of Vietnam and includes an existing modern nickel mine built to Australian standards, which is currently being used to process nickel ore delivered by the underground bulk sample program, the company said. The Ban Phuc nickel mine successfully operated as a mechanised underground nickel mine from 2013 to 2016.

In February 2022, Blackstone completed a prefeasibility study for the TKNP, and presented this on an integrated basis with the proposed Ta Khoa Refinery (TKR) development. The TKR is being designed to have a refining capacity of 400,000 t/y, with feedstock provided from a combination of concentrate from the TKNP and third-party feed sources.

GeoMoby geolocation technology receives plaudits at Karora’s Beta Hunt mine

Having developed what it says is world-first geolocation technology for mining that could improve safety underground and potentially save companies millions of dollars each year, GeoMoby has now tested out its solution in an underground section of Karora Resources’ Beta Hunt gold and nickel mine, in Western Australia.

GeoMoby – the name of the company and product – uses wireless, cable-free and reusable beacons to geofence sites, track assets and check on workforces, providing a layer of safety and efficiency never seen before, the company says.

It recently tested the location and communication network at Beta Hunt, with results gathered from the project confirming the possibility of live audio and video streams in real time, using Bluetooth Low Energy, GeoMoby said.

Before now, audio and video communication from underground to the surface has only been possible with Wi-Fi or LTE powered wireless networks.

Bluetooth capabilities enable mining companies to reach optimal connectivity without having to stop operations – at a large cost to the business – to lay cables and wires throughout the site, the company said. The technology allows the transfer of live audio and video streams to the surface in real time, in addition to existing real-time location, messaging and photo transfer capabilities, ensuring surface teams can have eyes and ears underground.

GeoMoby CEO, Chris Baudia, said the high-speed wireless network powered by Bluetooth Low Energy was able to transfer a range of important operations information from down the hole to the surface.

“Using our point-to-point network of nodes and technology platform, we have been able to stream audio and video in high quality and real time to the surface, allowing those above ground to hear and see what’s going on beneath them,” he said.

He said the simple, cable free, low disruption deployment method was a game changer for miners looking to improve their communication with minimal interference to operations.

“Key data transferred from underground to surface includes speed calculation alerts for vehicles and machinery, proximity awareness and real time proximity detection alerts,” he explained. “These features, along with file transfer and geofencing technology, are being delivered through our updated Underground Zero Harm application, giving miners the advantage of a one stop technology shop for monitoring people and assets.”

The roll out of a wireless point-to-point network at Beta Hunt involved the installation of 16 nodes across 2 km of underground mine tunnels and was completed in 2.5 hours, with no impact on the mine’s operations, according to GeoMoby. It connects a range of devices – both personal and company issue – directly to nodes, which combine to feed information in to the platform for users to see.

Baudia added: “Our benchmark is entry-level technicians correctly positioning or replacing nodes with no or minimal assistance from GeoMoby. Software diagnostic tools incorporated into the platform allow site personnel to detect any fault in the network and respond immediately, which is critical to ensuring communications remain intact at all times.”

Karora Senior OHS Adviser, Jody Herd, said there had been a steep change in operator behaviour since the GeoMoby technology was installed.

“We have 120 people on site at any given time,” he said. “Previously we tracked personnel and equipment underground the old school way with tag board systems, so we didn’t always know where everyone was at any given time without using a radio.

“We’ve already seen a change in operator behaviour due to workers understanding that machines are now monitored using the GeoMoby solution.”

Baudia said GeoMoby was working through added use cases of contact tracing capability in the instance of infectious disease entering sites, individual health monitoring and geofencing solutions that are currently only available with their on-surface solution.

Metso Outotec to provide PT Huafei Nickel Cobalt with Planet Positive Larox filters

Metso Outotec has been awarded what it says is a major contract for the delivery of sustainable tailings filtration technology to PT Huafei Nickel Cobalt’s greenfield laterite nickel ore project in Indonesia.

Metso Outotec’s scope of delivery consists of the engineering, manufacturing and supply of the Planet Positive Larox® FFP3512 filters, as well as installation and commissioning advisory services and spare parts.

The fully automatic fast-opening filter press (FFP) combines the benefits of membrane technology and sidebar design with high mechanical and process performance, providing safe and sustainable high-volume dewatering of tailings with low operating and life cycle costs, Metso Outotec said.

The hydrometallurgical plant has a targeted annual output of 120,000 t of nickel metal and is expected to be in operation during the June quarter of 2023.

Metso Outotec’s Planet Positive portfolio, which the Larox FFP3512 filters are a part of, focuses on the most environmentally efficient technologies – of which there are more than 100 – in the company’s current portfolio, responding to the sustainability requirements of its customers. The customer requirements relate to energy or water efficiency, reduction of emissions, circularity and safety, Metso Outotec says.

Jussi Venäläinen, Vice President, Filtration business line at Metso Outotec, said: “For our customer, the key criterion for selecting Metso Outotec’s filtration technology was safe and sustainable tailings processing with proven service capability. In addition, we were able to meet the customer’s wish for a quick delivery time.

“We are very pleased to have been chosen as the solution supplier, and we look forward to working together with our customer on this important project.”

Metso Outotec’s filtration product portfolio is the largest in the field and the energy, emission and water efficiency is in a league of its own, the company said. It has carried out over 14,000 filtration tests and delivered more than 5,000 filters for various applications worldwide. Most of the filters are sold under the Larox product name along with Metso Outotec corporate branding. Metso Outotec also accommodates all filtration-related service and spare parts needs through its global service network.

The value of the order is over €30 million ($33 million), and it has been booked in Minerals’ Q1 (March quarter) 2022 orders received.

Nickel Mines targets further CO2 cut with SESNA solar power MoU

Nickel Mines Ltd has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with PT Sumber Energi Surya Nusantara (SESNA) to implement, if certain economic parameters are met, 200 MWp of solar capacity within the Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park (IMIP).

The MoU provides for SESNA to undertake the role of “Project Initiator” for developing, financing, constructing, commissioning, owning and operating a 200 MWp solar farm project to significantly scale up the supply of renewable energy to the company’s Hengjaya Nickel (HNI) and Ranger Nickel (RNI) nickel processing operations within the IMIP.

Under the proposed agreement, Nickel Mines will be the long-term offtake partner for SESNA and will not be required to contribute any capital funding. The indicative tariff for electricity is considered competitive with other similar scale solar projects, the company said.

SESNA is, Nickel Mines says, an established and leading solar development company in Indonesia, owning and operating a portfolio of solar feed-in-tariff (FIT) and microgrid projects as well as providing services and solutions such as engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) capabilities, solar financing and other technical development support to commercialise solar projects.

The potential 200 MWp solar project supplements the existing 396 kWp plus 250 kWh battery storage project which the company has entered into with SESNA for integration into the facilities at the Hengjaya mine (pictured), which is scheduled to commission this quarter. The Hengjaya mine, which hosts a JORC compliant resource of 185 Mt at 1.3% Ni and 0.08% Co, currently sources its power from diesel-powered generators. It is anticipated that the Hengjaya mine solar project will reduce diesel consumption by approximately 31 million litres over the 25-year projected project life.

Nickel Mines Managing Director, Justin Werner, said: “It is estimated this solar project could supply up to 20% of HNI and RNI’s current electricity requirements and, in doing so, account for a material reduction in annual CO2 emissions. This solar project marks an important first step in our ’Future Energy’ collaboration with our partner Shanghai Decent and our joint commitment to a more sustainable future for Indonesia’s nickel industry.”

The solar project may be implemented in stages with SESNA committing to finalise and deliver a project proposal within three months of signing the MoU, at which point the company may elect to proceed or terminate the MoU at its discretion.

PolyMet heralds positive permit news at NorthMet copper-nickel-palladium project

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has affirmed nearly all aspects of the water discharge permit for the NorthMet project, overruling six of the seven challenges to the permit made by mining opponents and paving the way for the “reactivation” of this key permit, according to Poly Met Mining Corp Chairman, President and CEO, Jon Cherry.

The Court of Appeals affirmed virtually every aspect of PolyMet’s permit at issue. In particular, the court endorsed the district court’s factual findings regarding the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) and the Environmental Protection Agency’s interactions during the permitting process; agreed with MPCA’s application of state law governing groundwater discharges; upheld the agency’s conclusion that PolyMet’s project has no reasonable potential to violate water quality standards; agreed with MPCA’s finding that PolyMet’s project will not violate the Fond du Lac Band’s water quality standards; and affirmed the agency’s denial of mining opponents’ requests for a contested case hearing, the company said.

In its decision the panel concluded that the MPCA should still consider whether “any discharges to groundwater will be the functional equivalent of a discharge to navigable waters, and thus, whether the Clean Water Act applies to those discharges”. The court remanded the permit to the MPCA to conduct this functional-equivalence analysis, which the US Supreme Court established in County of Maui vs Hawaii Wildlife Fund, a new precedent set more than a year after PolyMet’s permit was issued.

PolyMet is a mine development company that owns 100% of the NorthMet project in the Mesabi Iron Range, the first large-scale project to be permitted within the Duluth Complex in north-eastern Minnesota. NorthMet has significant proven and probable reserves of copper, nickel and palladium, in addition to marketable reserves of cobalt, platinum and gold. When operational, NorthMet will become one of the leading producers of nickel, palladium and cobalt in the US.

The NorthMet deposit will be mined by open-pit methods to a depth of approximately 700 ft below surface. It is also reusing existing infrastructure of the former LTV Steel taconite processing site. It is expected to produce up to 57.7 Mlbs of copper, 8.7 Mlbs of nickel, 311,000 lbs of cobalt, 14,000 oz of platinum, 59,000 oz of palladium, 4,000 oz of gold and 48,000 oz of silver annually over an estimated mine life of 20 years.

According to a Reuters story, PolyMet received a state permit to discharge water from its proposed mine site in late 2018. Shortly after that, three environmental groups sued to challenge the permit. The case wound its way through the court system before this week’s ruling at the appeals court, which sits below the state supreme court.

“We are pleased that we have prevailed on the majority of the issues and the court has narrowed the case to just this single issue regarding Maui, where considerable scientific data already exists,” Cherry said. “MPCA has already determined there is not a permittable discharge to groundwater and we are optimistic the agency will reach the same conclusion from the Maui test. This will mean a little more process, but it gives us a clear roadmap to the reactivation of this permit.”

BHP backs Kabanga Nickel mine development and refinery plan

BHP has invested $40 million in Tanzania-focused Kabanga Nickel, in addition to backing Lifezone Limited and its patented hydrometallurgical technology with a $10 million investment.

Kabanga Nickel Limited says its share of the cash will be used to accelerate the development of the Kabanga nickel project in Tanzania, which it claims is the world’s largest development-ready nickel sulphide deposit.

Lifezone, meanwhile, will use the funds to advance the roll-out of its technologies. The owner of the hydrometallurgy technology that will be used to build and operate the planned nickel refinery in Tanzania, Lifezone claims this technology is more cost efficient than smelting, has a significantly lower environmental impact, and will ensure that finished Class 1 battery-grade nickel, copper and cobalt will be produced in Tanzania.

Chris Showalter, Kabanga Nickel CEO, said: “BHP is the ideal partner for Kabanga Nickel, bringing significant advantages and expertise that will enable us to move ahead with the project.

“BHP’s investment reflects the project’s strong ESG credentials and its role in improving environmental performance throughout the nickel value chain. In addition, BHP’s funding support of Lifezone’s hydromet technology – the future of sustainable metals processing – will drive progress towards a greener world. Through development of Kabanga and Lifezone hydromet, Tanzania will have a growing role in the supply of the battery metals needed to move to a global low carbon economy.”

The Kabanga nickel project has had more than $290 million spent on it by previous owners such as Barrick and Glencore between 2005 and 2014, including 587,000 m of drilling. The outcome of this previous investment is an in-situ mineral resource of 58 Mt at 2.62% Ni, containing more than 1.52 Mt of nickel, 190,000 t of copper and 120,000 t of cobalt. The Barrick-Glencore joint venture also outlined a mine plan in a draft feasibility study that looked to recover 49.3 Mt of ore at 2.69% nickel equivalent from the two primary orebodies – North and Tembo. Kabanga is in the process of updating this plan.

While the BHP transaction is for a total consideration of $50 million, with investments in both Kabanga Nickel ($40 million) and Lifezone ($10 million), future investment tranches in Kabanga Nickel have been agreed subject to certain conditions. This includes a second tranche of $50 million and the right for BHP to make a further investment in Kabanga Nickel subject to achieving certain agreed milestones.

The first tranche of $40 million will convert into an 8.9% equity stake in Kabanga Nickel (7.5% see-through interest in Tembo Nickel Corp) once approvals and conditions are met. Once invested and on conversion, the second tranche of $50 million will increase BHP’s equity stake in Kabanga Nickel to 17.8% (15% see-through interest in Tembo), thereby valuing the project at $658 million, post-money. Tembo Nickel is the joint venture owner of the project, owned 84% by Kabanga Nickel and 16% by the Government of Tanzania, set to undertake mining, processing and refining to Class 1 nickel with cobalt and copper co-products near the asset.

The investment into Kabanga Nickel from BHP will support an acceleration in the mine’s development, including an enhanced metallurgical drilling program (which has already started) to enable update of the definitive feasibility study and support the construction plans for the hydromet refinery. These studies are expected to be completed by the end of 2022. Site and infrastructure development is already underway. The investment will also support hiring and training of local Tanzanian talent.

The investment into Lifezone allows for new patent applications as well as R&D work that will further commercialise the Lifezone hydrometallurgical technology. Lifezone currently has patents granted in over 150 countries.

The current project development timeline anticipates first production in 2025. Output will ramp up to target a minimum annual production of 40,000 t of nickel, 6,000 t of copper and 3,000 t of cobalt.