German chemicals firm BASF and French mining group Eramet on Tuesday announced that they would assess the joint develop a nickel/cobalt refining complex to supply the growing electric vehicle (EV) market.
The development would include a high-pressure acid leaching (HPAL) plant and a base metal refinery (BMR). The HPAL would be in Weda Bay, Indonesia, while the location of the BMR would be determined during the feasibility study.
The HPAL plant would process locally secured mining ore from the Weda Bay deposit to produce a nickel and cobalt intermediate.
Eramet acquired Weda Bay in 2006 and has since carried out extensive geological work. Mining operations started at the end of 2019.
The BMR would supply nickel and cobalt to produce precursor cathode active materials and then cathode active materials for lithium-ion batteries in EVs
The companies pointed out that securing access to raw materials, especially nickel, was a critical component to support the strong growth in the global EV value chain.
The planned development would provide BASF access to an additional secure source of 42 000 t/y of nickel and 5 000 t/y of cobalt from mines operating according to internationally recognised sustainability standards.
The project targeted a start-up of the HPAL and BMR facilities in the mid-2020s and would start in the first phase feasibility study with limited funding.