Queensland Pacific Metals Ltd (ASX:QPM) (FRA:4EA) has received positive assays for mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP) produced from recent piloting test-work for the TECH project in Townsville, Queensland.
As part of QPM’s technical team, the company engaged leading consultants who are experts in both MHP production and its refining of MHP into nickel and cobalt sulphate.
These experts confirmed that the assay results of QPM’s MHP are in line with leading MHP products that are currently sold around the world, largely for the purpose of refining into nickel and cobalt sulphate.
MHP is preferred nickel feed source for refining to nickel sulphate as the process to do so is commercial, relatively straight forward and has low capital and operating costs.
The issue is that there is limited MHP available in the global market, and sulphate producers have had to supplement their feed with nickel metal.
Historically, MHP used to sell for around 65-75% of the LME nickel price (for the nickel contained in the MHP).
However, with the growth in demand for nickel sulphate, MHP payability has increased significantly.
In the most recent quarter, leading nickel analysts Benchmark Minerals reported MHP payability had increased to 84.5% in the recent December 2020 quarter.
This percentage of payability is for good quality MHP products with inferior MHP selling at a lower per cent payability.
Aiming to sell nickel and cobalt sulphate
QPM’s intention is for the TECH Project to sell nickel and cobalt sulphate as a value-add product.
However, given that it is a high purity battery chemical, there can sometimes be a period of product acceptance test work on commercial-scale production that must be undertaken with potential offtakers.
The ability to sell high-quality MHP in parallel with this acceptance period will be a benefit for the TECH Project.