Conico has slaked its thirst for more battery metals at its Mt Thirsty project in WA with a 146% increase in cobalt, nickel and manganese resources.

The project, which is held in joint venture with Greenstone Resources (ASX:GSR), now has an Indicated and Inferred resource of 66.2 million tonnes grading 0.06% cobalt, 0.43% nickel and 0.45% manganese following the inclusion of the thick and continuous zones of overlying and outcropping nickel-manganese mineralisation that have been ignored until now.

Significantly for Conico (ASX:CNJ), Mt Thirsty now has the second highest cobalt-nickel ratio for similar pre-development projects in Australia and is uniquely positioned to produce precursor Cathode Active Material (pCAM) outside of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Russia.

A high value product containing cobalt, nickel and manganese, pCAM is used in the production of cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries, which provide the energy storage needed to help decarbonise the global economy.

A Scoping Study is now underway to leverage the materially larger resource to support a longer life operation along with the adoption of high-pressure acid leaching (HPAL) and the addition of a cathode precursor plant to produce a pCAM material.

Looking beyond cobalt

Executive director Guy Le Page noted that while Mt Thirsty was previously viewed as a cobalt-only project, the recent adoption of HPAL and the expected improvements in metal recoveries had led to the inclusion of the overlying and outcropping nickel-manganese mineralisation, which could transform the project into a long-life and low-cost operation.

“Following the rapid adoption of electric vehicles over the past five years there has been a fundamental shift not only in underlying commodity demand, but also in the specific product requirements demanded by end-users, which has signalled a shift away from lower-value intermediary projects to higher-value refined products,” he added.

“The Mt Thirsty project is well positioned to take benefit from this shift containing all three required elements (cobalt, nickel and manganese) to potentially produce a cathode precursor product with cathode precursors typically receiving a ~50% pricing premium over intermediatory products.

“The increasing demand for critical minerals highlights the geopolitical and ethical risks associated with establishing sustainable supply chains capable of meeting emission reduction targets.

“Mt Thirsty has the potential to play a key role in supplying a low-cost, ethical and sustainable source of cobalt and nickel outside of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Russia, who currently dominate global supply.”

More to come

There is also plenty of room to grow with large areas of the resource remaining open at depth while the identification of scandium in recent drilling warrants further evaluation.

Scandium could represent a valuable by-product revenue stream for Mt Thirsty as it has a wide range of applications, including aerospace, defence, hydrogen fuel cells and electronics industries.

The ability to produce pCAM, which is typically a combination of cobalt, nickel, and manganese, along with other chemical additives that help to improve the performance and stability of the battery, also provides the company with exposure to the growing electric vehicle sector.

These cathode materials are one of the key components of lithium-ion batteries required to decarbonise the global economy, as they determine the performance characteristics of the battery, such as energy density, power density, and cycle life.

Conico adds that the Scoping Study is expected to be completed by early July and may provide the foundation for the potential future consolidation and IPO of the Mt Thirsty project later this year.

It will be followed by a Pre-Feasibility Study into the development of a low-cost, ethical and sustainable source of cobalt and nickel.




This article was developed in collaboration with Conico, 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.