PERTH (miningweekly.com) – An independent nickel and cobalt sulphate market study has flagged the planned Sconi project, in North Queensland, to be one of the most competitive producers in the world, once operational.
Construction of the A$1.4-billion Sconi project is expected to start this year, with the operation expected to process some two-million tonnes a year of ore at the Greenvale site, producing an estimated average of 8 500 t/y of cobalt, 53 300 t/y of nickel sulphate and 77 t/y of scandium oxide for at least 18 years.
Owner Australian Mines, which commissioned the independent report, said on Tuesday that the study forecast that the 2025 value-adjusted business cost of the project would place it in the first quartile, compared with other existing and proposed analogue operations globally.
The study also found that the decision to process the Sconi ore into a battery grade nickel sulphate project would be more beneficial in the long-term, as premiums for the product would increase beyond 2025, as higher cost processing routes began to be factored in to meet the growing demand.
“We felt it was prudent to get an updated expert view of the medium and long-term market forecasts for nickel and cobalt, and confirm our bankable feasibility study modeling that pointed to Sconi being a first quartile, low-cost producer,” said Australian Mines MD Benjamin Bell.
“The market study serves to demonstrate that there will be a very significant opportunity for new nickel sulphate and cobalt sulphate market entrants, including Australian Mines, and the price environment is expected to be very favourable for low-cost producers.”
Bell said that Sconi was on track for first production in 2021.