Once developed, the project is forecast to be one of the most cost-competitive cobalt-producing nickel operations in the world.
A key priority for AUZ is establishing offtake agreements and the company has re-engaged negotiations with a number of interested third parties following the lapse of the offtake with SK Innovation.
Sconi positions AUZ at forefront of battery metals industry
In the December quarter report, AUZ’s managing director Benjamin Bell said: “The company is well-positioned to take advantage of the expected increase in global demand for nickel and cobalt, which are the key required commodities used by electric vehicle (EV) battery makers, auto manufacturers (also called OEMs, or original equipment manufacturers) and in the storage and delivery of clean, sustainable energy sources.
“Our profile as a potential low cost, long term supplier of battery-grade materials, operating in a low-risk jurisdiction and producing ethically derived cobalt and nickel sulphate should be an attractive proposition to global OEMs and EV battery makers alike.
“The Board believes Australian Mines can be a leading supplier into this market by using industry-standard technology that builds on the knowledge gained through the construction and operation of a number of pressure acid leach plants by various companies around the world coupled with the company’s own experience from successfully operating its demonstration-scale processing plant in Australia.
Offtake agreements to support financing discussions
“Our priority is to continue advancing the company’s discussions with potential offtake partners for the Sconi Project. It is expected our selected partner/s will make a meaningful financial commitment to the project financing of Sconi, as part of any offtake agreement.
“We will also continue to engage with a range of potential project financiers to ensure that all due diligence conditions are satisfied to allow offtake discussions to progress beyond the current stage into formal contracts.
Pre-construction work planned for 2020
“In parallel we continue to develop the production and processing capacity at Sconi, which in Financial Year 2020 is anticipated to include pre-construction work on shared public-use infrastructure, and further investment in North Queensland with the aim of delivering a significant contribution to local businesses and the community through providing secure, long term jobs.
“We continue to regularly liaise with the Queensland Government to maximise the benefits of Sconi having “Prescribed Project” status, which will help with the smooth and methodical development of this world-class, Tier 1 project.”