Concio has commenced an updated scoping study at its Mt Thirsty cobalt-nickel-manganese-scandium JV project with Greenstone Resources (ASX:GSR) in WA.

The plan is to assess several optimisations, including the use of High-Pressure Acid Leaching (HPAL) and the addition of a cathode precursor plant to produce a Precursor Cathode Active Material (pCAM) – which could potentially transform the project’s economics.

Precursor Cathode Active Material (pCAM) is made of cobalt, nickel & manganese – all of which are contained within the project – and are used in the manufacturing of high-performance lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.

If it was produced at Mt Thirsty, it could mean a significantly higher value product which typically receives a ~50% pricing premium over the intermediary product (MHP/MSP) the project was previously envisaged to produce in a Pre-feasibility Study (PFS) in 2020.

“The production of pCAM has the potential to increase both payable metal content and as a result also increase revenue,” Conico (ASX:CNJ) says. 

HPAL expected to improve recoveries and economics

High pressure acid leaching is a process used to typically extract nickel, cobalt, manganese and scandium from oxide orebodies, and is expected to materially improve both cobalt and nickel recoveries at Mt Thirsty – serving to increase the amount of sellable metal and therefore increase life of mine revenue.

The PFS had elected to utilise atmospheric leaching, however despite extensive metallurgical test work, cobalt and nickel recoveries only averaged 74.3% and 22.3%, respectively.

Comparable HPAL projects in Australia typically receive cobalt and nickel recoveries of 90.1% and 92.3%, respectively.

In addition, the identification of scandium in the most recent drill campaign serves to highlight the potential to add a valuable by- product revenue stream.

“While insufficient data currently exists to support the inclusion of scandium in the forthcoming mineral resource estimate update, the HPAL test work will still assess the ability to produce a scandium oxide product,” CNJ said.

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Scoping study updated in July 2023

As part of the scoping study, an updated mineral resource estimate (MRE), mine design, tailings management plan and associated site infrastructure design will be undertaken.

The updated MRE is expected to be completed this month, with the scoping study expected in mid-July.

The company says the scoping study will provide a foundation for the future consolidation and IPO of the Mt Thirsty project later this year – followed by a Pre-Feasibility study.




This article was developed in collaboration with Conico Limited (ASX:CNJ), a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

 This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.