Pure Minerals (ASX:PM1) is planning to start operations at its TECH project nickel-cobalt pilot plant in the fourth quarter of this year.

The company has already received expressions of interest from potential offtakers in purchasing nickel in excess of production levels contemplated in its pre-feasibility study.

First samples of nickel-cobalt mixed hydroxide precipitate will be provided to the potential offtakers before the end of the year, with nickel sulphate and cobalt sulphate samples to be provided shortly thereafter.

While it had originally planned to use the existing plant owned by CSIRO Minerals for stage one, the design and cost of required modifications were delayed by COVID-19 restrictions.

This prompted the company to decide that the ALS Global Hydrometallurgy Centre of Excellence would be the best location for the pilot plant.

Pure Minerals also plans to prepare the stage-two refining steps at CSIRO that will produce high-purity battery grade nickel and copper from the mixed hydroxide precipitate.

Pure Minerals (ASX:PM1) share price chart


Funded for zinc exploration

Meanwhile, Alta Zinc (ASX:AZI) has raised a total of $5.6m to fund ongoing exploration at its Gorno zinc project in northern Italy.

This comes after it closed an oversubscribed share purchase plan that raised $2m, $500,000 more than it originally planned.

Earlier this year, drilling at Gorno returned high-grade hits such as 7.6m at 8.2 per cent zinc, 3.4 per cent lead and 17 grams per tonne (g/t) silver and 8m at 5.8 per cent zinc, 1.9 per cent lead and 34g/t silver from 35.5m.

Alta Zinc (ASX:AZI) share price chart