Ardea Resources could be in for a key role in an innovative battery cathode precursor production pilot plant to be developed by the ‘Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre’ or “FBICRC” that has raised $130m in collaboration with government, academia and the private sector to promote Australia’s battery industry credentials. Ardea will grant sample material from its giant Kalgoorlie Nickel Project, or “KNP” for testing at the $18m venture.
Ardea is looking to bring to life its multi-deposit KNP where a whopping 826 million tonne nickel laterite resource going 0.7 per cent nickel and 0.046 per cent cobalt has been defined. The deposits combine for a resounding 5.9Mt of contained nickel and 380,000 tonnes of cobalt, believed by Ardea to represent the largest nickel-cobalt resource in the developed world.
The company is conducting definitive feasibility study works on a subset of KNP known as the Goongarrie Hub, as it seeks to become a producer of ethically sourced nickel, cobalt and scandium for the lithium-ion battery industry.
As an active member of FBICRC, Ardea could play an integral role in Australia’s future battery industry through its participation in the recently announced precursor production pilot plant.
The company says bulk drill samples from current drilling at Goongarrie will be supplied to the pilot plant for evaluation. Test material from Ardea’s metallurgical pilot program, conducted during prior pre-feasibility works at Goongarrie, will also be provided to the innovative battery research organisation.
The drill samples will also be used for Ardea’s own metallurgical testing for ongoing feasibility works at Goongarrie.
Ardea continues to be an active member of the FBICRC and is optimising an enhanced flow sheet for the Kalgoorlie Nickel Project to also include additional Critical Mineral by-products such as Scandium and Rare Earth Elements.
Ardea’s collaborative research at the FBICRC includes achieving the ability to trace and track nickel-cobalt products through the supply chain and with Environmental Social and Governance considerations at the forefront of the way Ardea does business, helps confirm that the Kalgoorlie Nickel Project development is based on sustainable and ethical principles.
The Perth-based FBIRCR brings together about 70 industry participants, including four state governments, eight Australian universities and multiple ASX-listed companies.
FBIRCR holds a portfolio of 17 research projects spanning the battery value chain. Via a six-year research program, it is aiming to deliver commercial, proprietary outcomes to facilitate industry expansion in the flourishing battery industry.
Critical battery metals mined in Australia, including nickel and cobalt, are currently exported to international markets in the form of mineral concentrates, with little attention given to downstream processing and manufacturing of lithium-ion battery materials locally.
The proposed $18m pilot plant, located in Western Australia, will look to produce a modern-day suite of precursor products from locally sourced materials that are suitable for use in electric vehicles around the world.
Installation and commissioning of the pilot plant is slated for the first quarter of next year.
According to FBIRCR, refining of battery chemicals and manufacturing of active materials in Australia could potentially result in a $1.9 billion boost to the national economy by the end of the decade, with 9,300 jobs also created.
FBIRCR provides an opportunity to unlock the value of Australia’s mineral riches by focusing on processing of raw materials in Australia and Ardea appears to be holding a lot of cards with its massive nickel and cobalt resources at KNP.
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