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Neometals completes valuable cobalt extraction test work in Canada

Monday, February 20, 2017 22:40
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Neometals (ASX:NMT) has completed a proof of scale study aimed at recycling batteries from consumer electronic devices such as laptops and mobile phones.

The test work was completed at facilities in Montreal, Canada, where the co‐developed, proprietary process aimed to recover cobalt from recycled lithium ion batteries.

The completed preliminary engineering cost study supports business case to accelerate commercialisation of the technology.

The estimated cash cost for processing is US$4.45 per pound of cobalt, which has a current spot price of US$20 per pound.

Neometals owns a 13.8% stake in the recently producing Mt Marion Lithium Project, which recently scheduled a second lithium concentrate shipment for mid‐March.

Chris Reed, managing director, commented: “With the Mt Marion Lithium Project successfully in production, Neometals’ can extend its strategic focus to opportunities in the higher margin, downstream opportunities in the lithium value chain where we can apply our knowledge and technology portfolio.”

Test work details

Neometals completed laboratory scale test work on 100 kilograms of spent lithium‐ion laptop and phone batteries containing an average of 19.8% cobalt.

The company engaged Sedgman to complete an engineering cost study on a small scale plant using the technology.

Results from the completed test work have indicated strong potential for a viable processing operation via a modular plant to initially recover saleable cobalt product from used lithium‐ion batteries.

Details include:

- Total capital cost: US$4.5 million;
- Life of plant: 10 years;
- Life of plant revenue: US$233 million;
- Average net operation cost: US$4.45 per pound cobalt or US$9,852 per tonne;
- Pre-tax cash flow: US$144 million;
- Pre-tax net present value: US$84 million; and
- Payback period: <1 year.


The successful results from the test work and study gives Neometals leverage to a new commodity in cobalt, which is experiencing favourable supply-demand market dynamics.

The cobalt supply chain is under some stress due to the rapid increase in demand from battery manufacturing and a supply chain that is dominated by co‐production and high sovereign risk resource locations.

Currently less than 5% of used lithium‐ion batteries are recycled as disposal is typically either paid‐for recycling or landfill.

Immediate plans involve investing in a continuous operation, pilot‐scale hydrometallurgical plant at the company’s Montreal laboratory to accelerate the evaluation of the recovery of high‐purity cobalt and future recovery of lithium, nickel, copper and aluminium.

Subject to the success of the mini‐pilot/pilot scale test work, Neometals intends to proceed with a feasibility study.

The proposed work plan will be funded internally, with an expected date of completion in December 2017.

Story by ProactiveInvestors


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