BHCP Pilot Plant
Following successful development of the COB Process Technology at the laboratory scale, COB is building a Pilot Plant to test the process on a continuous basis. The throughput rates are nominally 1-2 t per hour for the concentrator circuit and 100-150 kg per hour for the leaching circuit. COB will process up to 90 t of ore (RC Chips) through the plant, using existing samples collected in previous drilling campaigns.
The Pilot Plant will allow COB to produce varying specifications of cobalt products (including mixed hydroxides and sulphates) and represents a significant milestone for our business. Our commercial aim is to make battery ready cobalt sulphate from this facility on a scale sufficient to provide test samples (~10 kgs) for global commercial partners.
The Pilot Plant data will be used to define a larger Demonstration Plant activity scheduled for 2H 2021. The Demonstration Plant will include all unit operations for the proposed BHCP at nominally a 1:500 to 1:1000 scale. The Demonstration Plant will focus on calcining cobalt-pyrite concentrate for production of sulphur, and an integrated hydrometallurgical circuit for leaching calcine and recovery of cobalt and sulphur.
The data collected from operations will be used in the BHCP Feasibility Study to confirm the process recoveries of cobalt and sulphur. As part of these activities, larger sample cobalt and sulphur products will be generated for commercial assessment.
COB is currently working with 15 global partners who have expressed interest in receiving cobalt samples, with a view to qualifying COB as a supplier to the global battery industry. To date LG International, Mitsubishi Corporation and Sojitz Corporation have become named partners. The battery industry is investing approximately US$200Bn (source: Benchmark Mineral Intelligence - 2020) with 160 global manufacturing facilities (“Giga Factories”) identified to date. This is a very exciting period for our business.
HCP Community Day
Ahead of the Pilot Plant official opening in 2021, COB invited Broken Hill community members to the plant site for an introduction followed by Q&A. CEO Joe Kaderavek, Demonstration Plant Manager Adam Randall and Community Engagement Manager Andrea Roberts attended the event along with an estimated 50 people (COVID restrictions permitting).
The event included a video highlighting the aims and community impact of the BHCP as well as a banner/display that was the centre piece of extensive interest and discussions. The community response was very positive, looking forward to the BHCP providing local people with an opportunity for steady employment as well as supporting local businesses providing goods and services across its anticipated 20 year operating life.