PERTH (miningweekly.com) – ASX-listed Queensland Pacific Metals (QPM) will at least double the size of its TECH critical chemicals project, in Queensland.
The company this week told shareholders that initial consideration to increase the scale of the TECH project from the initial 0.6-million-tonne-a-year size considered in the project’s prefeasibility study (PFS) was driven by discussions with potential offtakers and memoranda of understanding inked with LG Chem and Samsung SDI.
QPM said that the increased size of the TECH project would allow the company to benefit from large economies of scale, which would improve the capital efficiency and project economics.
High grade nickel laterite ore will be imported from New Caledonia from a number of ore supply partners, to the Port of Townsville, where it will be transported to the TECH project. The processing plant there will then produce a nickel/cobalt mixed hydroxide precipitate, aluminium hydroxide, high purity hematite and magnesium oxide.
A 2020 PFS estimated that the project would require a capital investment of A$554-million, and would deliver 26 398 t/y of nickel sulphate, 3 097 t/y of cobalt sulphate, 4 007 t/y of high purity alumina, 327 665 t/y of hematite and 20 079 t/y of magnesia over a 30-year project life.
QPM will now scale up the process plant size to between 1.2-million and 1.5-million tonnes a year, with the final sizing to be determined by the definitive feasibility study.
The plant design would remain a single leaching train flowsheet, meaning construction time would remain unaffected by the doubling of the production capacity.
Environmental approvals for the enlarged project are on track for the December quarter of this year, with QPM targeting first production from the plant in 2023.