Tag Archives: nickel

BHP selects seven exploration companies for Xplor accelerator program

BHP Xplor, an accelerator program introduced by BHP in August 2022, has announced its first cohort of seven companies focused on discovering the copper, nickel and other critical minerals needed to support the energy transition.

These seven have been selected out of hundreds of applications received from all around the world, BHP said, adding that they will receive funding and support under the BHP Xplor accelerator program.

This program is designed to help provide participants with the opportunity to accelerate their growth and the potential to establish a long-term partnership with BHP and its global network of partners. The program will offer candidates funding, in-kind services, mentorship and coaching, and opportunities with BHP’s network of suppliers and service providers, according to BHP.

BHP Xplor Vice President, Sonia Scarselli, Vice President, said: “We are amazed by the diversity and quality of the submissions we reviewed and selected. We are confident that the BHP Xplor program will support the seven companies chosen to accelerate their concepts and ideas, to help take it to the next level.”

BHP Xplor will also provide BHP the opportunity to access some of the most exciting exploration prospects globally, including new geographies and geologic concepts beyond what is seen today, helping to drive its pipeline of new opportunities to shape its future asset portfolio, the company said.

BHP Chief Development Officer, Johan van Jaarsveld, said: “Through this program, we hope to create disruptive results in copper and nickel exploration by identifying new concepts, leveraging new data and testing opportunities at a much faster pace than discoveries to date.”

Each company will receive an up to $500,000 cash payment from BHP, together with access to a network of internal and external experts to help guide development across technical, business and operational aspects of the company.

The seven companies selected to join the BHP Xplor accelerator program are:

  • Tutume Metals – a private, junior exploration company with secured ground searching for critical minerals in Botswana;
  • Impact Minerals – a junior explorer listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) with a variety of battery metals projects across Australia;
  • Asian Battery Metals – a junior exploration company focused on finding economic deposits of critical minerals in the Asia Pacific region;
  • Red Ox Copper – a private minerals exploration group in Australia, specialising in generating grassroots, greenfield conceptual plays with potential for Tier 1 ore deposits;
  • Bronzite Exploration Corp – an early-stage exploration for copper in northern Canada, spearheaded by Professor James Mungall, an experienced field and economic geologist at Carleton University, Ottawa;
  • Nordic Nickel – a brand new nickel sulphide explorer, listed on the ASX and focused on two projects in northern Finland, in the Central Lapland Greenstone Belt; and
  • Kingsrose Mining – a junior exploration company listed on the ASX with regional projects in Norway and Finland targeting nickel, copper and platinum group elements.

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.”

Metso Outotec to deliver crushing, flotation and thickening tech to OZ Minerals West Musgrave

Metso Outotec says it has been awarded an order for the supply of key minerals processing technologies to OZ Minerals’ West Musgrave copper-nickel project in Western Australia.

The OEM’s scope of delivery includes an MP1250™ cone crusher, as well as Planet Positive classified flotation units and high-rate thickeners.

The TankCell® e630 flotation units (pictured) are the most proven large-scale cells in the 600 cu.m-plus category and come with the largest installed base of operating cells in the world, according to Metso Outotec.

Metso Outotec’s high-rate thickeners, meanwhile, were selected for their state-of-the-art technology and based on references from similar process plants, it said. Laboratory test work was conducted by Metso Outotec to aid thickener selection.

Kai Rönnberg, Vice President, Minerals Sales – Asia Pacific at Metso Outotec, said: “We are very excited to work on the West Musgrave project with OZ Minerals. We were able to align with the project’s key value drivers at an early stage and provide expert technical support.

“OZ Minerals has selected leading-class Planet Positive process equipment for their nickel and copper production process, and they will also be able to benefit from our extensive aftermarket capabilities and footprint in Western Australia.”

In September, the OZ Minerals Board greenlit the build of the West Musgrave copper-nickel project. The feasibility study the board signed off on detailed a 13.5 Mt/y operation with average production of circa-28,000 t/y of nickel and circa-35,000 t/y of copper over a 24-year operating life.

JP Morgan-backed financing paves way for further MineSense growth

MineSense Technologies Ltd says it has closed a $42 million Series E financing led by J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s Sustainable Growth Equity team that, it says, will allow it to accelerate the commercial deployment of its solutions to drive further growth and profitability.

The funding round includes participation from new investor Evok Innovations, a climate technology and sustainability venture fund, and existing investors including Prelude Ventures, BDC Industrial Innovation Venture Fund, Cycle Capital and Chrysalix Venture Capital.

MineSense has been pioneering data-driven solutions that improve ore grade control, operational profitability and carbon intensity across the metals mining industry. It is doing this through a combination of its ShovelSense® and BeltSense® hardware, a digital platform and geoscientific insight that goes beyond purely grade-based orebody information.

ShovelSense provides precise ore/waste definition and unlocks unique, previously inaccessible data sets at the mine’s extraction face, according to the company. This real-time data enables removal of waste from ore and recovers valuable ore from waste by making smart routing decisions that also reduces the amount of waste processed, production of tailings, and energy, water, and reagent consumption. Metal recovery is increased materially, with production from operating mines increasing by 5-25% on existing infrastructure, according to the company.

The company has initially been focused on copper, with those mining companies that have signed up to use its solutions looking to maximise ore recovery, minimise dilution and enhance operational sustainability.

MineSense says it has tripled revenue over the last year, and was recently recognised as one of the fastest growing companies in North America by Deloitte.

It currently currently serves mines across North and South America, with notable deployments in British Columbia (Teck’s Highland Valley Copper, Copper Mountain Mining’s operation and Taseko Mines’ Gibraltar operation), Chile (Carmen de Andacollo) and Peru (Antamina).

The fundraising will allow the company to expand its coverage globally and extend into other critical metals such as nickel, cobalt, zinc and iron, it said.

Jeff More, CEO of MineSense, said: “We are pleased to partner with J.P. Morgan Sustainable Growth Equity and Evok to scale our ore grade data mining solutions. This funding and strategic support will allow us to continue executing on our strategy of delivering profit enhancement, operational efficiency, and carbon intensity reduction to critical mining operations.”

Draslovka about to move into glycine leaching mining demonstration phase

Czech Republic-based Draslovka Holding is heading into a busy 12-month period where its glycine leaching technology will be showcased at numerous mining projects across the globe, the company told IM on the side lines of the Resourcing Tomorrow conference, in London, this week.

According to Ivor Bryan, Director of Mining Innovation at Draslovka Mining Solutions and the former MD of Mining & Process Solutions (MPS), the entity responsible for the development of the GlyCat™ and GlyLeach™ technologies, the company is embarking on around 10 projects in the mining space, which will prove up the 3,500 hours of testing that has been conducted at MPS’ facilities in Perth, Western Australia.

MPS was acquired by Draslovka, a major sodium cyanide producer in 2022, with the aim of the transaction being to grow and develop the glycine leaching business.

Gold leach testing via GlyCat has been the major area of focus over the last decade. The process was invented to reduce cyanide consumption while maintaining gold recovery for gold ores from deposits containing nuisance copper. It has been designed to enhance the dissolution of gold and copper in gold/copper ores where glycine is used as a catalyst with cyanide in a cyanide-starved leaching environment. It doesn’t replace cyanide, but, in fact, enhances its leaching capabilities by dealing with the high-cyanide consuming copper within these gold-copper orebodies.

Yet, the company is also now starting to make inroads into the base metal space through GlyLeach, with nickel and cobalt two specific areas of interest. The technology is able to leach the targeted metals with enhanced selectivity compared with conventional methods. It will solubilise copper, nickel, cobalt and zinc, while gangue minerals such as iron, manganese, silicates and carbonates remain in the leach residue, Draslovka says.

This is allowing the company to promote that it can reduce the capital expenditure associated with processing these metals by removing the need for smelting, or in the case of tailings deposits, helping recover metal from assets previously written off as ‘waste’.

While the technology could have applications at run of mine operations, Bryan and his colleague Jackson Briggs, Corporate Development Manager of Draslovka, believe the most immediate opportunity is in tailings where the application of glycine leaching on ‘waste’ material could recover valuable metals while reducing the potential liabilities associated with such storage facilities.

Of the 10 or so projects the company has ahead of it, one is situated in Western Australia where the company is looking to recover nickel and cobalt metals from a tailings deposit of a major mining company.

Another project – much closer to fruition – is in Chile and involves leaching a carbonate-hosted copper oxide deposit containing some 600 t of material.

In both cases, the company is looking to demonstrate that it can recover valuable metals at high recovery rates, with low impact – namely rationalising reagent and water use and, in the case of nickel-cobalt, removing smelting from the equation.

This, according to Draslovka CEO, Pavel Bruzek, is a “win-win” for mining companies and their stakeholders, benefitting both the balance sheet and the operational environmental footprint.

“While we are a major sodium cyanide producer, when we saw the potential of MPS’ glycine leaching technology and the increase in metallurgical complexity of orebodies looking to be exploited, it made perfect sense to work with and promote this technology,” he told IM. “It is the responsible thing to do for the industry.”

Metso Outotec to deliver thickeners for nickel HPAL project in Indonesia

Metso Outotec says it will deliver thickeners for a nickel laterite hydrometallurgy project owned by China’s Ningbo Lygend Resources Technology Ltd on Ono island in Indonesia.

The order covers 25 state-of-the-art thickener units for its nickel laterite HPAL (High Pressure Acid Leaching) project, the OEM says.

Metso Outotec’s scope of delivery includes several Planet Positive thickening products, including High Rate, High Compression, and Paste Thickening technologies equipped with ReactorwellTM feed system where applicable, it added.

“Ningbo Lygend produces high quality MHP (Mixed Hydroxide Precipitation) raw material for battery production in Indonesia,” Paul Sohlberg, Senior Vice President, Minerals Separation, Metso Outotec, said. “They chose Metso Outotec thickeners for their project, thanks to our sustainable, state-of-the-art technology combined with our good understanding and references of similar process plants. The Metso Outotec thickeners enable optimised production and high recovery rates.”

Metso Outotec says it is a global leader in the design, fabrication and supply of thickening and clarifying solutions and related services for the mining industry and has delivered over 2,400 thickeners to its customers worldwide.

The Ningbo Lygend Resources order strengthens the company’s position in nickel laterite HPAL applications, it added.

Wallis Drilling wins three-year contract extension at Glencore’s Murrin Murrin op

Glencore has signed a three-year contract extension with Wallis Drilling to retain the drilling company’s services at Murrin Murrin in Western Australia’s Goldfields region, which will extend Wallis’ long-standing relationship at the Glencore-owned operation to over a quarter of a century, the service provider says.

Wallis Drilling is a local Western Australian business, founded in 1965 by Marty and Jamie Wallis, which has grown to over 300 employees, but remains a family run business today.

Wallis has provided services to Glencore’s Murrin Murrin operation for 24 years and the contract extension, running through to September 2025, will see Wallis Drilling continue to provide RC grade control and blasthole drilling at Murrin Murrin.

Murrin Murrin is a nickel-cobalt mining and processing operation between Leonora and Laverton in the north-eastern Goldfields region of Western Australia and currently provides work for over 1,000 employees and contractors.

Wallis Drilling Manager, Wayne Waters, oversees the Murrin Murrin contract, with his role previously being occupied by Grant Wallis who is now the Chief Operating Officer of the business.

Waters said: “Murrin Murrin, like Wallis, understands the importance of establishing and nurturing long-term relationships to create stability, which has been exemplified by the latest contract extension.

“This business certainty is beneficial to Wallis, but it also gives us the capacity to plan for the long-term on site at Murrin Murrin and deliver the best operational outcomes.”

Grant Wallis said: “Our work at Murrin Murrin has helped us grow from a small family business to one of Australia’s largest privately-owned minerals drilling companies, while still remaining true to our local WA roots.”

Nic Fenner, Head of Mining Technical Services at Murrin Murrin, said: “We are very proud to help grow local Western Australia businesses, like Wallis Drilling, and help be a part in their success stories.

“The strong relationship between Murrin Murrin Operations and Wallis has been underpinned by our shared values and culture. Murrin Murrin and Wallis both have many long serving employees with some even being the second generation in their family to work at Murrin Murrin.”

Horizonte Minerals appoints MIP/Milpan as electro-mechanical contractor for Araguaia

Horizonte Minerals Plc has selected MIP Engenharia & Milplan Engenharia to provide the electro-mechanical installation services at its 100%-owned Araguaia nickel project in Brazil.

Following a competitive tender process that involved the leading industrial construction companies active in the mining sector, MIP/Milpan was selected as the preferred provider, Horizonte said.

“MIP/Milpan has a strong track record and importantly, prior rotary kiln-electric furnace (RKEF) experience from Vale’s Onça Puma mine, a ferronickel mine with a similar processing flowsheet to Araguaia, and a number of other major mining projects in the Carajas region,” Horizonte said. “MIP/Milpan is well placed to be able to provide access to a skilled workforce, which can be redeployed from projects that are being completed elsewhere in Pará, Brazil, further de-risking Araguaia’s development schedule.”

Horizonte says mobilisation of the MIP/Milpan workforce is already underway to begin furnace assembly activities on site at Araguaia, with the contract award taking the level of committed spend to over $400 million as part of the project’s development.

Jeremy Martin, CEO of Horizonte Minerals, said: “MIP/Milplan have a proven track record of successfully delivering large projects in Brazil and across the mining sector, in particular a wealth of experience at a similar ferronickel project, having worked on Vale’s Onça Puma ferronickel mine.

“This is another important step forward in the construction of Araguaia, further de-risking the project’s timeline, which remains on schedule for first nickel in Q1 (March quarter) 2024. With the award of every new contract, we take a step closer to our objective of becoming a global leader in primary nickel production.”

The Araguaia project comprises an open-pit nickel laterite mining operation that delivers ore from a number of pits to a central 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.

Ring of Fire Metals exploring wind power and ‘carbon removal’ options for Eagle’s Nest

Ring of Fire Metals (RoF Metals) says it has commenced two studies exploring the use of wind power and atmospheric carbon removal as part of planning for a net zero emissions mine in northern Ontario’s Ring of Fire.

Stephen Crozier, RoF Metals VP Sustainability, said the findings from a study of the wind energy resource conducted by global renewable energy company Windlab earlier this year were promising.

“Our primary focus in the development of Eagle’s Nest is to implement low emissions technologies throughout the operation, wherever possible,” he said. “We are encouraged by the results of the initial wind study and believe there is good potential to generate clean energy using wind turbines in the area, which we will further define with additional study in the near term.

“Other options for complementary low- and no-emission generation, including biomass, pumped hydro and solar, are also being investigated to supplement clean wind energy production if needed.”

Following completion of the Windlab study, RoF Metals installed a Vaisala WindCube® LiDAR (pictured) for the collection of more detailed data.

Crozier added: “Unlike traditional tower installations, LiDAR devices obtain measurements throughout the air column from the base to the top of the turbine blades rather than just at the hub. We have already started collecting detailed data using WindCube and will continue throughout the seasons to track natural weather variability.

“Data from both studies will then be matched with projected power demand to guide modelling of power generation and storage options for the proposed Eagle’s Nest mine.

“Ultimately we would like to be able to draw upon and potentially supply to Ontario’s power grid when it is expanded to northern communities.”

RoF Metals is also participating in the DETAILS project with Dr Liam Bullock at Geosciences Barcelona, an institute of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (GEO3BCN-CSIC), to investigate the potential to use mine tailings to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Crozier said the tailings from ultramafic nickel deposits have been shown to have the potential to absorb significant quantities of carbon dioxide, and there may be ways the company can speed up the rate that this happens.

“We have provided Geosciences Barcelona with samples of tailings from the Eagle’s Nest project and they are evaluating their potential for carbon dioxide absorption,” he explained. “We hope to be able to use our tailings to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and safely and permanently store it underground.”

Eagle’s Nest is, according to Ring of Fire Metals, one of the largest undeveloped, high-grade nickel-copper-platinum-palladium deposits in the world, located in the Ring of Fire. Based on existing exploration work, Eagle’s Nest will have an initial mine life of 11 years, with the potential for a nine-year extension. It will produce modest volumes of high value product via selective underground mining methods that minimise surface disruption, according to the company. The mined ore will be processed into 150,000 t/y of nickel-copper and platinum group element bearing concentrate.

Phoenix Tailings receives US DoE funding for ‘carbon-negative’ tech development

Phoenix Tailings, a US-based critical materials extraction and refining startup, is to receive $1.2 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to extract nickel and magnesium from mining waste using what it says is “carbon negative technology”.

These metals are crucial to the production of the batteries that fuel cars, computers and phones using a zero-emissions process, it said.

Phoenix Tailings was one of 16 projects across the country to receive the funding as part of the Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy Mining Innovations for Negative Emissions Resource Recovery program, which aims to develop market-ready technologies that will increase domestic supplies of critical elements required for the clean energy transition.

The funding will support Phoenix Tailings’ work to extract nickel and magnesium from mining tailings through a process that uses carbonisation and recycled carbon dioxide. The process, which is carbon negative, generates high-purity nickel oxide and magnesium carbonate.

Phoenix Tailings, Co-Founder Anthony Balladon (pictured), said: “Think about all the products we use that rely on batteries – from computers to EVs to tactical weapons systems. We depend on the metals that make up these batteries, but rarely think about the environmental impacts of producing them. At Phoenix Tailings we have found a carbon negative way to recover nickel from mining waste, or tailings. We are grateful for the ARPA-E funding to help propel this project forward and ensure there’s a sustainable way to create these metals without producing harmful by-products.”

U.S. Secretary of Energy, Jennifer M Granholm, said: “A reliable, sustainable domestic supply chain of critical materials that power longer-lasting batteries and other next-generation energy technologies is crucial to reaching our clean energy future. With these investments, DOE is helping to reinvigorate American manufacturing to reduce our overreliance on adversarial nations and position the nation as a global leader of research and innovation.”