Zero-carbon nickel, cobalt and iron production on the way Metal Tech News – January 24, 2024
Canada Nickel Company is well on its way to developing zero-carbon production of nickel, cobalt and iron in what they've coined the emerging Timmins Zero Carbon Nickel District.
Founded by CEO Mark Selby in 2019, Canada Nickel's flagship development is Crawford, a nickel project timed perfectly to bolster the shrinking global supply after losing problematic Russian and Chinese resources to a rising need for stable supply with measurable environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) considerations.
Nickel, Selby explains, was a 2.5 million metric ton market a year ago, with roughly half of that under Chinese control or coming out of Indonesia with environmentally poor, carbon-dense standards of operation. Loss of Russian nickel represented 20% of global supply, while nickel supply from the rest of the world has been shrinking markedly every year since 2016.
Selby goes on to propose that nickel is where lithium was in 2019, with stocks and prices down, while the majors have been consistently under-investing. In comparison, hundreds of lithium projects are underway, but only a handful of nickel projects-the U.S. sports only one, the Eagle Mine in Michigan.
Even with battery engineering focused on reducing or even replacing various critical minerals, including lithium, nickel still has no substitutes. Meanwhile, reserves have been steadily going down while demand has risen, with very few alternatives for clean nickel in the remaining global battery supply chain.
To hit the net-zero mark, the Crawford project will employ existing pyrometallurgical processes with electric arc furnaces using natural gas while rerouting CO2 into waste rock and tailings. Likewise, hydrometallurgical processes will be utilized to further minimize off-gassing during production.
The ability to store carbon dioxide at the project is due to the nickel and cobalt being hosted in ultramafic rock that naturally absorbs and sequesters CO2. The company has developed a novel process involving injecting concentrations of CO2 into tailings while they are still being generated in the processing circuit rather than after they've been deposited.
More than 34 metric of carbon is expected to be captured and stored per metric ton of nickel produced over the project's lifetime. Additionally, after successfully reducing their own footprint to net zero, the excess carbon storage capacity generated per metric ton of nickel can be sold to other companies.
Along with Crawford's reserve of 3.8 million metric tons of nickel, Canada Nickel has accumulated a portfolio of more than twenty other properties in the Timmins district, eleven with the same host mineralization and a larger footprint – all near existing infrastructure to further minimize the company's carbon footprint.
Over its operational life, Crawford is also expected to produce 24,000 metric tons of cobalt, 490 million ounces of platinum and palladium, 58 million metric tons of iron, and 2.8 million metric tons of chromium.
Selby is confident the Crawford project will have permits in place by mid-2025 and production by the end of 2027.