RNC Minerals will begin test work at its Dumont site to produce nickel and cobalt sulphate for use in EV batteries
Canada-based mining firm RNC Minerals says it is commencing test work to produce nickel and cobalt sulphate directly from nickel sulphide concentrate, without smelting and refining.
RNC says its discussions with the auto industry and battery materials suppliers has shown there is significant interest in a process which could be built in the North America to supply regional and European auto companies with nickel and cobalt sulphate, without the cost and complexity associated with traditional smelters/refineries or processing facilities in Asia.
This led the company toward the development of a breakthrough nickel processing technique, whereby sulphide concentrate is fed directly into a stainless steel mill without going through a traditional smelter/refinery. RNC worked with Chinese stainless steel producer Tsinghan to build this approach.
The company now intends to repeat this in the battery and EV market by using “sulphation roasting” – a process used today in cobalt processing that allows nickel and cobalt sulphate to be produced directly from nickel sulphide concentrate.
RNC president and CEO Mark Selby commented: “We are planning to repeat the same success we had with Tsingshan for the stainless steel market by delivering a simpler, cheaper process for nickel and cobalt from sulphide concentrate to be utilised for the electric vehicle market. As highlighted by Cobalt 27 in its recent announcement, Dumont concentrate is ‘ideal for producing nickel and cobalt material feed to be sold directly into the battery industry.'”
Selby continued: “In our discussions with leading auto industry and battery market participants, it is also clear that there is a significant concern over the increasing political risk from future nickel production which will be increasingly concentrated in Indonesia, the Philippines, and China. This process offers clear potential for Dumont, as one of the few large nickel and cobalt projects outside these countries, to provide supply to the EV market without having to utilize the processing facilities controlled by the existing nickel majors or processing facilities in China. The location of Dumont in the excellent mining jurisdiction of Quebec gives RNC a unique advantage to provide locally sourced metal for the North American EV market which we think will be highly attractive for potential partners.”