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Queensland Pacific Metals is ready to select an engineering contractor to proceed with definitive feasibility work for its planned Townsville battery chemicals plant.

And the company has signed a memorandum of understanding with Port of Townsville to line up port access for the $550 million-plus project.

It said the port had confirmed there was sufficient capacity to import up to 1.5 milion tonnes of ore per annum for processing at the Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub (TECH) project.

The latest developments come after successful pilot plant test work in Western Australia.

This demonstrated the successful application of the DNi Process to the type of ore that QPM plans to process at the TECH plant.

Fourteen 14 dry tonnes of ore have been processed through the pilot plant across two campaigns, yielding nickel-cobalt mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP), co-products and leach residue.

“Overall, the pilot testwork has been a success, delivering on key outcomes and also identifying potential areas of improvement which will be incorporated into the DFS,” chief executive officer Stephen Grocott said.

“We are now ready to select an engineering contractor with which to undertake the DFS.”
The company will now carry out testwork relating to refining pilot plant products into final saleable products (nickel sulfate, cobalt sulfate, high purity alumina, hematite, magnesia and nitric acid recycle).

Samples will also be distributed to offtakers.

Confidence to scale up planned production

A significant feature of the MOU with Port of Townsville is the assurance that there will be sufficient capacity for QPM to import up to 1.5 million tonnes per annum of ore and to export requisite production associated with this volume of ore.

The company said this provided confidence for an expansion of the TECH project beyond the volumes considered in the pre-feasibility study.

The original scaling of the TECH project was for a $554 million plant that would produce approximately 6000 tonnes of contained nickel per annum.

However Queensland Pacific Metals is looking to scale that up to meet the demands of significant offtake deals with LG Energy Solution and Samsung.

The company stated earlier this month that it planned to finalise the scale of the TECH project in the March 2021 quarter, prior to the commencement of a definitive feasibility study.

“Our confidence level in a larger scale TECH Project is increasing and knowing that there is sufficient capacity at a critical piece of infrastructure required to support the TECH Project’s logistic requirements is very important in our consideration of the scale of the project,” Mr Grocott said.