Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub proponent Pure Minerals plans to begin producing battery materials from a pilot plant by the end of 2020.
Stage one pilot plant operations are set to commence in the last quarter of this year to produce a nickel-cobalt mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP), aluminium hydroxide and saleable haematite.
Stage two piloting – scheduled for early 2021 – will refine the MHP to nickel sulphate and cobalt sulphate and the aluminium hydroxide to 4N high purity alumina (HPA).
The pilot work will be carried out at the new ALS Global Hydrometallurgy Centre of Excellence in Perth with support from CSIRO experts.
“In my short time with the company, good progress has been made both with respect to technical advancement of the project and discussions with potential offtakers,” Pure Minerals chief executive officer Stephen Grocott said.
“I am very pleased that we have a clear path forward for the piloting and am especially delighted with the involvement of both ALS Global and the CSIRO, two outstanding organisations with which I have worked extensively.”
Pure Minerals subsidiary Queensland Pacific Metals had planned to use a Western Australian DNi pilot plant owned by the CSIRO for stage one work.
Design and costing of the CSIRO pilot plant modifications was delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Once complete, QPM ran a tender process for the various work streams and found the ALS Global Hydrometallurgy Centre of Excellence was the best location for the stage one piloting.
Work to assemble the pilot plant has commenced and the bulk ore sample has been prepared, ready for processing in October-December.
Results will feed directly into a bankable feasibility study for the TECH project.
Before that study, QPM plans to lock down the scale of the TECH project.
“Whilst the project is easily scalable, QPM is also aware that capex and ability to obtain project funding must be considered and will continue to advance discussions with various parties with the view of securing offtakers and project partnerships or investment,” the company said in a statement to the ASX.