Federal government gets behind plan for new Townsville battery metals refinery
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Special Report: The ASX company seeking to develop a new battery metals refinery in Townsville has received a major boost by securing more than $4 million in grant funding for the project.
Pure Minerals Limited (ASX:PM1) announced today that its Queensland Pacific Metals (QPM) subsidiary had been successful with its application for a $2.55 million grant through round 8 of the Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) program.
The CRC-P program was set up to support industry-led collaborations with Australian research organisations to develop a product, service or process that will solve problems for industry and deliver real outcomes.
The eighth funding round had a specific focus on Australia’s critical minerals capability.
QPM is partnering with mineral processing technology group Direct Nickel Projects Pty Ltd and the CSIRO to develop the Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub (TECH) Project, which will process imported laterite ore from New Caledonia into nickel sulphate, cobalt sulphate and other valuable co-products including high purity alumina.
All three of these products – nickel sulphate, cobalt sulphate and high purity alumina – are used in the manufacture of batteries for electric vehicles.
Commenting on the grant, Pure Minerals managing director John Downie said it was “strong recognition of the TECH Project and Its potential” and that the support from the federal government was welcome.
“The TECH Project clearly aligns with the government’s focus on developing Australia’s critical metals industry,” he said.
“With the production of nickel sulphate, cobalt sulphate and high purity alumina, the TECH Project could become a one-stop shop for battery manufacturers to source the chemcials they require.”
Along with the CRC-P grant, Direct Nickel and the CSIRO have agreed to contribute $1.6 million of in-kind funding for ongoing feasibility work on the TECH Project.
This work will include the operation of the CSIRO/DNi pilot plant to process bulk samples of ore into significant quantities of mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP) for use in the downstream refinery and construction and operation of a sulphate pilot plant to refine MHP to produce nickel and cobalt sulphate.
The grants will also help fund product acceptance testwork and ongoing flowsheet validation for the DNi Process and sulphate and co-product processes.
Pure Minerals completed a pre-feasibility study on the TECH project in January that estimated a pre-production capital cost of US$300 million plus a $US49 million contingency, an order of magnitude less than other nickel-cobalt projects slated for development in Australia.
The main reason for the cost differential is choice of technology, with TECH using the DNi atmospheric leaching process and the others applying high pressure acid leaching (HPAL).
Pure Minerals shares had gained 0.1c to 2c in midday trading on Friday, capitalising the company at $9.1 million.