Pure Minerals Ltd (ASX:PM1) subsidiary Queensland Pacific Metals Pty Ltd (QPM) is making steady progress with the TECH Project aimed at establishing a value-adding metals processing facility in the Queensland city of Townsville.
Pilot plant activities are progressing as planned at ALS Global Hydrometallurgy Centre of Excellence in Perth with final pilot plant flowsheet details agreed and assembly underway.
A pilot project management team comprising representatives from ALS Global, CSIRO, Direct Nickel and QPM has been established and the team is holding weekly meetings to monitor progress.
Further progress has come by way of an iron collaboration with Sun Metals, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Korea Zinc, to undertake agglomeration work on a haematite by-product.
QPM has also signed an MOU with James Cook University in Townsville for a joint research program on transforming the TECH Project into a zero solids waste operation.
Pilot plant activities
A bulk ore sample from QPM’s partner mines in New Caledonia has been prepared and is ready for nickel/cobalt production in the pilot plant.
Reagents required for the operation including acid, magnesia and flocculant have been ordered.
In parallel with the ALS Global activity, QPM has started to assemble an owner’s team to supervise and manage the operation of the pilot plant with renowned engineering company Hatch appointed to this team.
The owner’s team will ensure the pilot plant meets bankable feasibility study standards and involvement of Hatch is a stepping-stone for this work.
Hatch is an internationally renowned engineering company with extensive experience in nickel and cobalt and familiarity with the Direct Nickel process.
The owner’s team, augmented with Hatch’s experience and knowledge, will add credibility to the pilot plant operation, particularly with potential offtakers and financiers of the TECH Project.
Iron by-product collaboration
The iron collaboration with Sun Metals has delivered encouraging early results.
QPM and Sun Metals have appointed Drytech International Holdings to carry out preliminary agglomeration, the process of converting iron fines into a saleable product with the target market being blast furnace feed for steel making, trials on iron samples.
Initial trials have demonstrated successful agglomeration of the iron fines into pellets.
MOU with James Cook University
A collaboration with James Cook University will at first focus on the research program relating to the leach residue produced from the TECH Project.
The initial focus is on the characterisation of this residue and the potential to convert it to commercial applications, including engineered landfill and non-structural construction material applications such as blocks, pavers and cement feed.
Though the collaboration with JCU, the TECH Project aims to become the world’s first ‘zero-waste’ nickel/cobalt production facility.