Queensland Pacific Metals Ltd (ASX:QPM) (FRA:4EA) traded higher on completing successful bench-scale test-work to produce nickel sulphate from the nickel-cobalt mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP) produced at its pilot plant operations.
MHP is currently the preferred intermediate nickel product to refine into nickel sulphate for batteries.
The company engaged The Simulus Group to undertake bench-scale test-work with the goal of producing nickel sulphate that meets the range of specifications nickel sulphate specifications required by battery manufacturers.
Utilising a conventional industry flowsheet that involves re-leach, solvent extraction, impurity removal and crystallisation, Simulus successfully produced nickel sulphate.
Shares were as much as 15% higher to 11.5 cents intra-day on volume of almost 31 million while QPM's market cap is approximately $112 million.
“Raw ore to final battery chemical product”
The process is a conventional commercial flowsheet that is widely employed in the industry, with existing nickel sulphate refineries using the same process on nickel metal (after dissolution in sulphuric acid and purification) as they cannot source sufficient MHP, which is a cheaper nickel input.
QPM managing director Stephen Grocott said: “We have now completed the full process from a raw ore source to a final battery chemical product.
“The Australian Government is trying to develop the nation’s capability for advanced manufacturing and the TECH Project is the perfect example of a project that would fit this bill.”
Assay results of nickel sulphate produced.
Assay results meet offtake specifications
The assay results were better than the company’s targets for all elements and based on industry specifications, the results satisfy the strictest battery specifications for potential off-takers.
This is an important milestone for QPM as the company has now produced battery spec nickel sulphate from a bulk sample of representative nickel ore sourced from its New Caledonian ore supply partners.
QPM will now undertake pilot-scale test-work for the production of nickel sulphate from its remaining MHP.
The company will also continue to work with CSIRO on the assessment of an alternative refining flowsheet that may result in potential process savings.