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BC nickel project receives Canada support

Metal Tech News - March 9, 2023

FPX Nickel obtains $725,000 federal grant to advance low-carbon nickel development at Baptiste project.

In support of a potential low-carbon domestic source of the nickel and cobalt needed for lithium-ion batteries, Natural Resources Canada has awarded FPX Nickel Corp. with C$725,000 (US$526,000) to accelerate demonstration of the technical and commercial viability of producing these electric vehicle battery metals from the company's Baptiste project in central British Columbia.

"Today's investment of more than $720,000 in FPX Nickel Corp. will help to advance the development of a dynamic and competitive critical minerals sector through the development and demonstration of innovative processing technologies," said Canada Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson. "This means good jobs for workers, more investment in Canadian innovation, and lower emissions across the country – all part of our plan to build a cleaner Canada and a prosperous, sustainable economy that works for everyone."

Advantageous Baptiste

A road-accessible project about three miles (five kilometers) from rail and about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of Fort St. James, BC, Baptiste hosts 8.44 billion pounds of nickel and 142 million lb of cobalt in 1.82 billion metric tons of indicated resource averaging 0.21% nickel and 0.004% cobalt.

This deposit boasts a couple of advantages when it comes to providing a clean source of nickel and cobalt.

One of the big advantages Baptiste offers is sulfur was not present when the nickel-cobalt minerals were deposited. In the absence of sulfur, a natural nickel-iron alloy known as awaruite was formed. This makes the nickel easier to recover and offers the potential for a high-quality concentrate that does not require smelting or high-pressure acid leaching. This means the nickel can be produced with less energy and a small carbon footprint than if the battery metal was produced from sulfide or laterite ores.

Adding to the environmental advantages is the ultramafic rock that hosts the Baptiste deposit is rich in brucite, a magnesium mineral that is good at absorbing carbon dioxide and transforming it into a solid magnesium carbonate that is stable on a geological time scale.

This means that the tailings produced from mining the nickel has the potential to at least offset the CO2 emitted during mining, which would make the nickel a net-zero carbon product that would be particularly attractive to automakers that want to tout the climate benefits of their expanding lineup of electrified vehicles.

Accelerating to feasibility

The federal funding awarded to FPX aims to support and accelerate the company's efforts to demonstrate the technical and commercial viability of producing low-carbon nickel and cobalt products for the EV supply chain from Baptiste awaruite concentrate.

FPX says the C$725,000 received under Canada's Critical Minerals Research, Development and Demonstration program will help fund bench- and pilot-scale testing that builds on previous work.

It is expected that the additional test work will further validate Baptiste's potential to produce nickel with lower carbon emissions, power consumption, and waste generation than traditional methods.

"We see tremendous opportunity for partnership and collaboration between industry and the federal government and First Nations on critical minerals projects such as Baptiste, and look forward to scaling up the production of battery-grade nickel sulphate and cobalt hydroxide from Baptiste and to demonstrating the technical and economic viability of producing battery materials in our upcoming preliminary feasibility study, expected in the third quarter of 2023," said FPX Nickel President and CEO Martin Turenne.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Metal Tech News

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With more than 15 years of covering mining, Shane is renowned for his insights and and in-depth analysis of mining, mineral exploration and technology metals.

 

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