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The Metals Company converts seafloor nodules into critical battery metals

Published by
Global Mining Review,


The Metals Company, an explorer of lower-impact battery metals from seafloor polymetallic nodules, has announced that it has derived an alloy comprised of high-grade battery metals from its pilot smelting campaign, conducted in partnership with Expert Process Solutions (XPS) with support from Hatch and Optimize Group.

The Metals Company converts seafloor nodules into critical battery metals

The Metals Company, an explorer of lower-impact battery metals from seafloor polymetallic nodules, has announced that it has derived an alloy comprised of high-grade battery metals from its pilot smelting campaign, conducted in partnership with Expert Process Solutions (XPS) with support from Hatch and Optimize Group.

The smelting work builds on last year’s calcining campaign at FLSmidth’s facilities, which demonstrated that conventional, well-proven rotary kiln technology can be utilised for this process.

Led by The Metals Company’s Head of Onshore Development, Dr. Jeffrey Donald, the pilot project team utilised a custom process derived from conventional nickel flowsheets to segregate the base metals contained in the nodules into two concentrated streams: an alloy comprised of critical metals essential for EV batteries and wiring including nickel, cobalt, and copper; and a manganese silicate which can be sold direct to market and further processed to manganese alloy — a critical input to steel production.

Dr. Donald comments:

“From a metallurgical perspective, nodules are a great feedstock to work with.

“They have high grades of valuable metals, few impurities, low variability, and come in shapes and sizes that make them very easy to handle, significantly reducing the cost and complexity of the processing.”

This latest stage in The Metals Company’s pilot processing program brings the company one step closer to realising its ambition of building a full scale metallurgical processing plant and advances the company’s mission of eliminating the solid waste streams and harmful tailings and residues associated with conventional land-based metal mining and production.

Gerard Barron, Chairman and CEO of The Metals Company, comments:

“These encouraging results show that nodules could provide an attractive alternative to land-based ores for securing high-volumes of the critical metals needed to achieve energy independence.

“With the potential to ship them anywhere in the world for processing, nodules could help solve national supply needs for important metals like nickel and manganese.”

The Metals Company’s metallurgical strategy is to use a flowsheet which utilises conventional equipment in a process that intends to generate near-zero solid waste. Compared to land-based ores, polymetallic nodules have relatively lower levels of harmful elements, and the company’s planned dual pyro/hydro-metallurgical process is expected to allow for residues to be recycled to the smelter and for the selection of reagents that produce products instead of waste.

Read the article online at: https://www.globalminingreview.com/mining/29092021/the-metals-company-converts-seafloor-nodules-into-critical-battery-metals/

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