Zero-Carbon Production of Nickel, Cobalt and Iron
07 August 2020
Canada Nickel Company Inc. has announced it has created a wholly-owned subsidiary, NetZero Metals, to begin the research and development of a processing facility that would be located in the Timmins, Ontario region with the goal of utilizing existing technologies to produce zero-carbon nickel, cobalt and iron products.
The Company has applied for trademarks for the terms NetZero NickelTM, NetZero CobaltTM, and NetZero IronTM in U.S., Canada, and other jurisdictions related to zero-carbon production of nickel, cobalt, and iron products.
Key Technologies Being Explored to Develop a Zero-Carbon Footprint Operation
Canada Nickel will explore the use of various alternatives to achieve its NetZero objectives in each stage of the mining process: Mining, Milling and Processing.
The biggest single technology to reduce the carbon footprint of mining activities is the utilization of electric rope shovels and trolley trucks which utilize electricity, rather than diesel fuel, as a power source wherever possible. Given the close proximity to zero carbon hydroelectric generating capacity, electricity use in place of diesel fuel has the potential to significantly reduce carbon emissions.
The deposition of waste rock and tailings during the mining process will also expose the serpentine rock to air which provides the potential for this material to absorb CO2 through natural mineral carbonation and offsetting any CO2 emissions from the project. The exact amount and rate at which CO2 can be absorbed from materials mined at Crawford will be analyzed during upcoming phases of work.
Traditionally, large scale processing of lower grade sulphide ores utilizes a significant amount of electricity. Again, the local proximity to hydroelectricity provide the potential to minimize carbon emissions for this stage of production.
NetZero Metals - Nickel-Cobalt Concentrate Processing
Existing processes for processing nickel-cobalt concentrates to remove sulphur, iron, and other impurities have resulted in the generation of significant quantities of CO2, SO2, and other impurities for a number of producers worldwide.
Canada Nickel will explore the potential for producing nickel and cobalt products from existing pyrometallurgical processes such as roasting, sulphation roasting, and reduction using electric arc furnaces (utilizing natural gas rather coke or coal as a reductant) with the offgases captured and re-routed to allow the CO2 be captured by the waste rock and tailings from the Crawford nickel-cobalt sulphide project1 The Company will also look at existing hydrometallurgical processes to produce nickel and cobalt products such as the Albion or other similar processes, which generate minimal off-gases to produce nickel and cobalt products. The off-gases will again be captured and treated to ensure CO2 and SO2 emissions are minimized.
NetZero Metals - Magnetite Concentrate Processing
The Company will explore the potential for the production of iron products utilizing existing direct reduced iron (DRI) processes or reduction in electric arc furnaces utilizing natural gas and then re-routed to allow the CO2 to be captured by the waste rock and tailings from the deposit.
Details Courtesy of Canadian Nickel Company.