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The proponents of a new Townsville nickel plant have identified an effective processing route to produce battery-grade nickel and cobalt sulphate from ore supplied from New Caledonia.

Pure Minerals says Queensland Pacific Metals, which it has an agreement to acquire, plans to utilise the DNi process to produce a mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP) from that ore.

The CSIRO has looked into a number of options to convert the MHP to battery-grade nickel and cobalt sulphate and identified the most prospective processing flowsheet for Queensland Pacific Metals.

The ability to produce battery-grade nickel and cobalt sulphate will improve the economics of the project and allow it to tap the burgeoning electric vehicle battery market.

QPM has commissioned the CSIRO to test the flowsheet to produce a sample of high-purity battery-grade nickel and cobalt sulphate as part of the scoping study for a 600,000tpa plant.

It will also use the sample for talks with potential offtake partners.

"We are confident that the process flowsheet identified by CSIRO will produce battery-grade chemicals and that it also has the ability to be scaled up at a commercial level," QPM director John Downie said.

"Establishing the optimum flowsheet is an important milestone and will allow QPM to focus specifically on this avenue as it embarks n its feasibility work."

Nickel plant proponents target battery market