Direct Nickel’s Technology ‘Ideally Suited’ To Processing Pure Minerals’ New Caledonian Ore

  • Oct 23, 2018 AEDT
  • Team Kalkine
Direct Nickel’s Technology ‘Ideally Suited’ To Processing Pure Minerals’ New Caledonian Ore

A future subsidiary of Pure minerals the Queensland Pacific Metals, has confirmed that to process New Caledonian nickel and cobalt ore, Direct Nickel Projects’ proprietary technology is perfectly suited. Using Direct Nickel’s DNi process on an ore sample from New Caledonia, initial laboratory tests were carried out which is representative of the ore Queensland Pacific plans to treat.

Core Metallurgy Pty Ltd conducted nitric acid leach tests on the ore to evaluate extraction of cobalt, nickel and other valuable co-products including iron, aluminum and scandium, magnesium, aluminum and scandium including iron, magnesium and assessed the leach characteristics of the ore samples.

The time taken to generate the metals was also investigated, in addition to the extraction levels. According to Pure Minerals, with nickel and cobalt generation greater than 95% in under four hours according to Pure Minerals, test work results exceeded expectations. Overall, test work using Direct Nickel’s process produced 95.3% magnesium, 95.4% aluminum, 96.1% iron, 97.3% scandium, 98% nickel and 98.1% cobalt. The samples from which they were extracted graded 1.70% nickel, 0.15% cobalt, 1.37% aluminum, 6.14% magnesium, 35.55% iron, and 40 parts per million scandium. 

Dr. Fiona McCarthy Direct Nickel chief technologist said, ‘Completed by Core Metallurgical the kinetic leach tests are very encouraging’. Dr. McCarthy added extraction levels are at the high end of the range of leach tests the leach times also appear particularly short. Queensland Pacific will replicate all the steps in the Direct Nickel process via an extensive laboratory program, to de-risk the process further. Out at the CSIRO Minerals’ facility in Western Australia, a continuous pilot plant trial will then be carried out.

After it planned to acquire 100% of Queensland Pacific mid-month, it’s been a busy fortnight for Pure Minerals. Queensland Pacific had secured an agreement to use Direct Nickel’s technology as followed by the announcement which uses nitric acid to digest minerals found in laterite ore at atmospheric pressure.

Nickel and cobalt laterite processing involve high-pressure acid leaching, currently and is costly to operate, while also producing large amounts of waste as this method requires a large capital outlay. However, Direct Nickel’s technology requires less capital outlay according to Pure Minerals as well as attracting lower operating costs and generating less waste.

To import and treat 600,000 tons per annum of New Caledonian nickel and cobalt laterite ore, Queensland Pacific has locked-in contracts. Using Direct Nickel’s technology, the company plans to process the ore at a plant in Townsville. The duo will work together on feasibility studies to deliver Queensland Pacific’s proposed plant, under the collaboration with Direct Nickel but the final commercial terms are yet to be paved in a definitive contract.

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