It’s tough not to get excited about a new mine development right here in Africa – Tanzania to be exact – that ticks all the right boxes in terms of commodity, grade, strategic importance, sustainability and ESG credentials.
Nickle – the forgotten battery metal – may just have been cast into the spotlight thanks to UK company Kabanga Nickel, which plans to develop the world’s largest development-ready battery grade nickel sulphide deposit in Tanzania to provide Class 1 nickel, cobalt and copper.
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Kabanga Nickel has signed a binding framework agreement with the government of Tanzania to establish Tembo Nickel Corporation, which will develop, mine and process the highly prospective Kabanga nickel deposit.
Acquired from previous joint owners Barrick and Glencore, Kabanga Nickel has exclusively acquired all data and information relating to the previous mineral resource estimation, all metallurgical test work and piloting data, analyses and studies, including a comprehensive draft feasibility study report produced in 2014 and subsequent updates.
Located in the north-west of Tanzania, Kabanga is the world’s largest development-ready high grade (>2.5% Ni) nickel sulphide deposit, unmatched in scale and grade, that hosts an in situ mineral resource of 58 Mt at 2.62% Ni containing more than 1.52 Mt of nickel. It will support a mine life of at least 30 years with further exploration potential.
Kabanga also contains significant amounts of cobalt and copper as co-products. Once developed, Kabanga will produce Class 1 nickel and cobalt products – two of the key elements used in electric vehicle (EV) batteries – and LME Grade A copper cathode.
The World Economic Forum has estimated that demand for high-purity nickel for EV battery production “will increase by a factor of 24 in 2030 compared to 2018 levels”.
Tembo will adopt proven hydrometallurgical technology in-country to process nickel concentrate, a method far removed from the conventional, energy-intensive pyrometallurgical processing route of smelting and refining. This process will eliminate the need to export concentrate long distances to European or Asian smelters and refineries, thus reducing capital and operating costs with significantly less environmental impact, while maximizing value within Tanzania.
Kabanga Nickel Chairman Keith Liddell says the company will develop Kabanga into a unique, ESG compliant, responsible mine of the future.
This mine will contribute significantly towards supplying critical and traceable battery metals for the transition to a low carbon world economy.
“As the world forges ahead with plans to decarbonise, it is increasingly looking towards more sustainable means to satisfy today’s growing demand for greener inputs to manufacture electric vehicles and specifically their batteries. Equally, we are ever more conscious of the importance of sourcing traceable raw materials responsibly with focus on high ESG standards,” says Liddell.
While it may be too premature to predict the success of the project just yet, the project has captured my attention this week owing to the size of the resource, the proven processing technique and the strategic importance in ensuing a low carbon future.