Tag Archives: nickel

BHP and Tesla to collaborate on battery supply chain sustainability

BHP has agreed to supply Tesla Inc with nickel from its Western Australia operations, in addition to looking at how the two companies can collaborate on ways to make the battery supply chain more sustainable.

The supply agreement will see nickel from BHP’s Nickel West asset in Western Australia, one of the most sustainable and lowest carbon emission nickel producers in the world, BHP says, head to Tesla for use in its electric vehicles and battery storage systems.

BHP Chief Commercial Officer, Vandita Pant, said: “Demand for nickel in batteries is estimated to grow by over 500% over the next decade, in large part to support the world’s rising demand for electric vehicles.

“We are delighted to sign this agreement with Tesla Inc and to collaborate with them on ways to make the battery supply chain more sustainable through our shared focus on technology and innovation.”

This latter collaboration will focus on end-to-end raw material traceability using blockchain; technical exchange for battery raw materials production; and promotion of the importance of sustainability in the resources sector, including identifying partners most aligned with BHP and Tesla Inc’s principles and battery value chains, BHP said.

BHP will also collaborate with Tesla Inc on energy storage solutions to identify opportunities to lower carbon emissions in their respective operations through increased use of renewable energy paired with battery storage, it added.

BHP Minerals Australia President, Edgar Basto, said: “BHP produces some of the lowest carbon intensity nickel in the world, and we are on the pathway to net zero at our operations. Sustainable, reliable production of quality nickel will be essential to meeting demand from sustainable energy producers like Tesla Inc.

“The investments we have made in our assets and our pursuit of commodities like nickel will help support global decarbonisation and position us to generate long-term value for our business.”

Ivanplats to trial Epiroc battery-electric drills and LHDs at Platreef mine

Epiroc says it has won a significant order for battery-electric mining equipment from Ivanplats that will be used to develop its greenfield Platreef mine in South Africa in the “most sustainable and productive manner possible”.

Ivanplats, a subsidiary of Canada-based Ivanhoe Mines, has ordered several Boomer M2 Battery face drill rigs and Scooptram ST14 Battery LHDs (pictured).

These machines will be trialled during the Platreef underground mine’s initial development phase, Epiroc said, adding that Ivanplats has the ambition to use all battery-electric vehicles in its mining fleet at Platreef.

The order exceeds ZAR150 million ($10.2 million) in value and was booked in the June quarter of 2021.

Ivanhoe indirectly owns 64% of the Platreef project through its subsidiary, Ivanplats. The South Africa beneficiaries of the approved broad-based, black economic empowerment structure have a 26% stake in the project, with the remaining 10% owned by a Japanese consortium of ITOCHU Corporation, Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation, and Japan Gas Corporation.

The Platreef 2020 feasibility study builds on the results of the 2017 feasibility study and is based on an unchanged mineral reserve of 125 Mt at 4.4 g/t 3PGE+Au, project designs for mining, and plant and infrastructure as in the 2017 study; except with an increased production rate from 4 Mt/y to 4.4 Mt/y, in two modules of 2.2 Mt/y, for annual production of more than 500,000 oz of palladium, platinum, rhodium and gold; plus more than 35 MIb of nickel and copper.

The initial plan is to start at a mining rate of 700,000 t/y before scaling up. An updated feasibility study on the plan is expected to be published before the end of the year.

Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, said it was “encouraging” that Ivanplats is considering going all battery-electric at Platreef.

“Battery-electric equipment is increasingly embraced by mining companies as it provides a healthier work environment, lower total operating costs and higher productivity,” she said. “The technology is now well established, and Epiroc is driving this change toward emissions-free mining.”

Marna Cloete, Ivanhoe Mines’ President and CFO, said: “We want to be at the forefront of utilising battery electric, zero-emission equipment at all of our mining operations. This partnership with Epiroc for emissions-free mining equipment at the Platreef Mine is an important first step towards achieving our net-zero carbon emissions goals while mining metals required for a cleaner environment.”

Boomer M2 Battery face drill rigs and Scooptram ST14 Battery loaders are built in Sweden, and are automation-ready and equipped with Epiroc’s telematics solution Certiq.

The equipment will be delivered early to Platreef in 2022. Epiroc will also provide on-site operator and maintenance training to Ivanplats, it said.

Epiroc intends to offer its complete fleet of underground mining equipment as battery-electric versions by 2025, and its full fleet for surface operations as battery-powered versions by 2030.

Perenti’s Barminco seals Savannah nickel project contract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OZ Minerals wades into uncharted renewables territory at West Musgrave

You do not get much more remote than OZ Minerals’ West Musgrave copper-nickel project. Located in the Ngaanyatjarra Aboriginal Lands of central Western Australia, it is some 1,300 km northeast of Perth and 1,400 km northwest of Adelaide; near the intersection of the borders between Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory. The nearest towns include the Indigenous Communities of Jameson (Mantamaru), 26 km north; Blackstone (Papulankutja), 50 km east; and Warburton (Milyirrtjarra), 110 km west.

This makes the company’s ambition of developing a mine able to produce circa-32,000 t/y of copper and around 26,000 t/y of nickel in concentrates that leverages 100% renewable generation and can conduct ‘zero carbon mining’ even bolder.

OZ Minerals is not taking this challenge on by itself. In addition to multiple consultants and engineering companies engaged in a feasibility study, the company has enlisted the help of ENGIE Impact, the consulting arm of multinational electric utility company ENGIE, to come up with a roadmap that could see it employ renewable technologies to reach its zero ambitions.

“We’re providing an understanding of how they could decarbonise the mine to achieve a net zero end game,” Joshua Martin, Senior Director, Sustainability Solutions APAC, told IM.

While ENGIE Impact is focused solely on the energy requirements side of the equation at West Musgrave, its input will prove crucial to the ultimate sustainability success at West Musgrave.

Having worked with others in the mining space such as Vale’s New Caledonia operations (recently sold to the Prony Resources New Caledonia consortium), Martin says OZ Minerals is being “pretty ambitious” when it comes to decarbonisation.

“Our job is to assess if the renewable base case stacks up for West Musgrave, create multiple decarbonisation pathways for their consideration and look at what technology should be adopted to achieve their overall aims,” he said.

This latter element is particularly important for an off-grid project like West Musgrave, which is unlikely to start producing until around mid-2025 should a positive investment decision follow the upcoming feasibility study.

While solar, wind and battery back-up are all likely to play a role in the power plans at West Musgrave – technologies that are frequently factored into hybrid projects looking to wean themselves off diesel or heavy fuel oil use – more emerging technologies are likely to be factored into a roadmap towards 100% renewable adoption.

“We are developing a series of roadmaps that factor in where we think technologies will be in the future,” Martin said. “These roadmaps come with a series of decision gates where the company will need to take one option at that point in time if they are to pursue that particular decarbonisation pathway.”

These roadmaps utilise ENGIE Impact’s consulting and engineering nous, as well as the consultancy’s PROSUMER software (screenshot below) that is used on any asset-level decarbonisation project roadmap, according to Martin.

“This software was specifically built for that purpose,” Martin said. “There is nothing on the market like this.”

Progress at PFS level

OZ Minerals’ December 2020 prefeasibility study update went some way to mapping out its decarbonisation ambition for West Musgrave, with a 50 MW Power Purchase Agreement that involved hybrid renewables (wind, solar, battery, plus diesel or gas).

The company said in this study: “Modelling has demonstrated that circa 70-80% renewables penetration can be achieved for the site, with the current modelled to be an optimised mix of wind, solar and diesel supported by a battery installation.”

OZ Minerals said there was considerable upside in power cost through matching plant power demand with the availability of renewable supply (load scheduling), haulage electrification to maximise the proportion of renewable energy used, and the continued improvement in the efficiency of renewable energy solutions.

ENGIE Impact’s view on hydrogen and electric haulage in the pit may be considered here, complemented by the preliminary results coming out of the Electric Mine Consortium, a collaborative mine electrification project OZ Minerals is taking part in with other miners such as Evolution Mining, South32, Gold Fields and IGO. And, on the non-electric pathway, ENGIE Impact’s opinion is being informed by a study it is undertaking in collaboration with Anglo American on developing a “hydrogen valley” in South Africa.

If OZ Minerals’ early technology views are anything to go by, it is willing to take some risk when it comes to adopting new technology.

The preliminary flowsheet in the prefeasibility study factored in a significant reduction in carbon emissions and power demand through the adoption of vertical roller mills (VRMs) as the grinding mill solution, and a flotation component that achieves metal recovery at a much coarser grind size than was previously considered in the design.

Loesche is working with OZ Minerals on the VRM side, and Woodgrove’s Direct Flotation Reactors got a shout out in the process flowsheet.

While mining at West Musgrave is modelled to be conventional drill, blast, load and haul, the haulage fleet will comprise up to 25, 220 t haul trucks, with optionality being maintained to allow for these trucks to be fully autonomous in the future, OZ Minerals said.

‘True’ zero miners

OZ Minerals is aware of the statement it would make to industry if it were to power all this technology from renewable sources.

“With a future focus on developing a roadmap to 100% renewable generation, and reducing dependency upon fossil fuels over time, West Musgrave will become one of the largest fully off-grid, renewable powered mines in the world,” it said in the updated PFS. “The solution would result in the avoidance of in excess of 220,000 tonnes per annum of carbon dioxide emissions compared to a fully diesel-powered operation.”

The company’s Hybrid Energy Plant at Carrapateena in South Australia, whose initial setup includes solar PV, battery storage, diesel generation and a micro-grid controller, will provide a test case for this. This is a “unique facility designed to host experiments on how various equipment and energy technologies interact on an operating mine site”, the company says.

Martin and ENGIE Impact agree OZ Minerals is one of many forward-thinking mining companies striving for zero operations with a serious decarbonisation plan.

“The mining projects we are working on are all looking to achieve ‘true’ net zero operations, factoring in no offsets,” he said. “Having said that, I wouldn’t say the use of offsets is an ‘easy out’ for these companies. They can form part of the decarbonisation equation when they have a specific purpose, for instance, in trying to support indigenous communities.”

These industry leaders would do well to communicate with each other on their renewable ambitions, according to Martin. Such collaboration can help them all achieve their goals collectively, as opposed to individually. The coming together of BHP, Rio Tinto, Vale, Roy Hill, Teck, Boliden and Thiess for the ‘Charge on Innovation Challenge’ is a good example of this, where the patrons are pooling resources to come up with workable solutions for faster charging of large surface electric mining trucks.

“In the Pilbara, for example, there is a real opportunity to create a decarbonisation masterplan that seeks to capitalise on economies of scale,” he said. “If all the companies work towards that end goal collaboratively, they could achieve it much faster and at a much lower cost than if they go it alone.”

When it comes to OZ Minerals, the miner is clearly open to collaboration, whether it be with ENGIE Impact on decarbonisation, The Electric Mine Consortium with its fellow miners, the recently opened Hybrid Energy Plant at Carrapateena, the EU-funded NEXGEN SIMS project to develop autonomous, carbon-neutral mining processes, or through its various crowd sourcing challenges.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vale sells New Caledonia nickel-cobalt operations to consortium

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.