April 9, 2018
RNC Minerals has announced it is commencing testwork to produce nickel and cobalt sulphate directly from nickel sulphide concentrate, without smelting and refining.
In RNC’s discussions with leading auto industry and battery materials participants, there is significant interest in a process which could be built in North America to supply North American and European auto companies with nickel and cobalt sulphate without having to go through the cost and complexity associated with traditional smelters/refineries or processing facilities in Asia.
RNC’s industry-leading nickel expertise and market understanding led to the development of a breakthrough in nickel processing cost and simplicity with the first sulphide concentrate being fed directly into a stainless steel mill without first going through a traditional smelter/refinery.
RNC worked with Tsinghan, the world’s leading stainless steel company to pioneer this approach. RNC intends to repeat this success for the battery and electric vehicle (EV) market by using sulphation roasting – another simple, proven process utilized today in cobalt processing to allow nickel and cobalt sulphate to be produced directly from nickel sulphide concentrate.
“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 utilized for the electric vehicle market,” said Mark Selby, President and CEO of RNC. “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.’
“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,” continues Selby. “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.”