TSX-V-listed Canada Nickel Company has announced the results of a laboratory test programme for a new method of accelerated carbon capture – in process tailings carbonation – that the company believes has transformational potential.
The lab-scale test demonstrates that the accelerated carbon capture process could allow tailings from its Crawford project, in Ontario, to absorb enough carbon dioxide (CO2) to achieve net-zero carbon emissions within 36 hours, and generate up to 21 t of CO2 credits for each tonne of nickel produced in six days. This compares with multiple months involved in existing passive tailings approaches.
At the Crawford project, this will translate into an average of about 710 000 t/y of CO2 credits and 18-million tonnes of CO2 credits over the preliminary economic assessment life-of-mine.
“These lab-scale test results demonstrate a potentially transformative process to run a nickel mine into a net generator of carbon credits rather than a generator of carbon emissions,” says Canada Nickel chairperson and CEO Mark Selby.
“Our active and accelerated process has the potential to operate at least eight to 12 times faster than current passive approaches, delivering carbon capture at a multiple of what industry leaders are currently able to achieve. Our process also allows easier quantification and verification of the amount of carbon captured.”
The Crawford project is hosted in ultramafic rock, which naturally absorbs and sequesters CO2. The potential to actively capture and sequester carbon was a key consideration in Canada Nickel’s acquisition of the 42 km2 of target ultramafic rocks in the Timmins area which could anchor a zero-carbon industrial cluster near Timmins.
The challenge has been to develop a process that speeds up the naturally occurring carbon absorption process. Canada Nickel has developed a simple active process that uses tailings as generated in the milling process and injects a concentrated source of CO2 for a brief period of time. This novel process for accelerated mineral carbonation is called IPT carbonation, which fixes CO2 geologically while the tailings are still in the processing circuit, rather than after they have been finally deposited.