Benefication company Thakadu Battery Materials has made its first drawdown under a R152 million loan facility agreement between its operating subsidiary Lonix and the Industrial Development Corporation for the completion of its modular nickel sulphate purification plant.

The plant will be installed at Lonmin Plc’s Base Metals Refinery in the North West province.

On site, civil and building works are at an advanced stage with overhead cranes load tested and ready for modular plant installation.

Construction of the modular plant began in early June 2018 at Styria Stainless Steel in Wadeville, Johannesburg, and the first row of process modules has been completed and tested at the fabrication workshop.

The individual modules are ready for delivery in sequence and the first row will be installed on site before the December construction break with the sequential installation and parallel construction process expected to be complete in five to six months. Completion of the motor control centre is on schedule for end of January 2019.

The Thakadu plant is on track for cold commissioning commencing end April 2019 with commercial production planned for end of H1, 2019. The plant will have the capacity to produce an annual 25 000 t of high-purity battery-grade nickel sulphate.

Ruli Diseko, Thakadu CEO, says:

“We are very excited to be pioneering the responsible supply of battery raw materials from South Africa for electric vehicles, at the same time as the ratio of nickel in lithium-ion batteries is set to increase.”