Moa JV expansion on track for completion next year – Sherritt

9th February 2023 By: Mariaan Webb - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

Moa JV expansion on track for completion next year – Sherritt

The Moa joint venture in Cuba

The expansion programme at the Moa nickel and cobalt joint venture (JV), in Cuba, is on time and budget for completion next year, says Canadian firm Sherritt.

The $77-million two-phase expansion will increase total mixed sulphide precipitate (MSP) intermediate production by 6 500 t of contained metals at a capital intensity of $13 200/t of contained nickel.

The programme includes completion of the slurry preparation plant (SPP), leach plant sixth train and fifth sulphide precipitation train, as well as construction of additional acid storage capacity at Moa.

The expansion, which will increase production by up to 20% from the combined 34 710 t produced in 2021, forms part of Sherritt’s strategy to establish the company as a leading green metals producer.

Sherritt reports that it sees an opportunity to focus its strategy on production of intermediary products that will enable it to fully use existing capacity at the refinery and also consider direct sales of intermediate product into the electric vehicle (EV) battery supply chain.

Of the increased production, Sherritt estimates that two-thirds of the Moa feed will be processed into finished nickel and cobalt and the remaining could be sold as MSP into the EV battery supply chain.

The increased feed will likely displace some current lower margin third-party processing at the refinery, the company notes.

Growth spending on capital is expected to be self-funded by the Moa JV primarily using operating cash flows. Total growth spending on capital in 2022 was $14.8-million (100% basis), primarily related to the SPP, ordering of long lead items, and basic engineering work related to the expansion programme.

Sherritt says construction of the SPP is progressing on schedule with civil construction 100% complete, and all contracts for supply of materials and services awarded. Structural steel pre-fabrication is ongoing with 65% erected and field assembly of major equipment has started.

At the Moa processing plant, the expansion consists of the completion of the Leach Plant Sixth Train and Fifth Sulphide Precipitation Train and construction of additional acid storage capacity. The company has submitted the final stage of the feasibility study, encompassing the full project scope, for approval to the Cuban authorities and approval is anticipated in the first quarter.

Bids have been received and are being evaluated for the long lead items for the Leach Plant Sixth Train and contracts for these items will be awarded in the first quarter. A detailed project execution schedule is currently being developed. Basic engineering will start this quarter on the Fifth Sulphide Precipitation Train and additional acid storage capacity.