PERTH (miningweekly.com) – An updated prefeasibility study (PFS) into the Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub (Tech) project, in Queensland, has confirmed its potential to deliver excellent economic results while remaining financially robust in a downward price cycle.
Owner Pure Minerals noted that the Tech project will process imported, high-grade lateritic ore into extract valuable metals, which would then be refined to generate higher value products.
The updated PFS incorporates the addition of a high purity alumina refinery and included optimisation work undertaken to reduce gas and water consumption, thereby reducing operating costs.
Over a processing life of some 30 years, the project would process 565 714 t/y of ore to generate 26 398 t/y nickel sulphate, 3 097 t/y cobalt sulphate, 4 007 t/y high purity alumina, 327 665 t/y hematite and 20 079 t/y magnesia.
Compared with the 2019 PFS, the updated study has increased the projected earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation from the initial A$124-million to A$261-million, and the post tax net present value from A$0.57-billion to A$1.47-billion, while the internal rate of return has increased from 20.1% to 30.7%.
The project is expected to require a capital investment of A$554-million and a A$96-million contingency, with operating expenditure estimated at A$163-million a year.
“The updated PFS demonstrates that the Tech project can be a significant supplier of battery chemicals, generating robust financial returns with soft commodity prices and excellent financial returns in stronger commodity cycles,” said Pure Minerals MD John Downie.
“The strong economics for the Tech project will appeal to offtakers and strategic investors who are seeking to support projects that can deliver certainty of supply at all times.
“It is an exciting time to be involved in energy innovation and battery technology will define the future of renewable energy. Lithium-ion battery technology, using high purity nickel and cobalt sulphate and high purity alumina is dominating the electric vehicle and energy storage future. We envision the Tech project to benefit significantly from that future.”
Downie noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has slowed activity in all business sectors, and with travel bans currently in place, potential end-users and strategic investors that have expressed interest in the pilot plant, are unable to travel.
Taking Covid-19 into consideration, a final investment decision on the Tech project is only expected in the second half of 2021, with funding expected to be secured during the same year.