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FPX Nickel granted Canadian government funding for Baptiste project

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Vancouver-based junior nickel miner FPX Nickel Corp. [TSX-V: FPX] has been granted $725,000 by the Canadian government to step up work on its Baptise nickel project in British Columbia. The company is already working on demonstrating that its production of nickel sulphate and cobalt hydroxide, two materials used in the production of electric vehicle batteries, is commercially and financially viable.

What makes FPX Nickel unusual is that its nickel production is expected to generate a much lower environmental footprint than most traditional nickel miners. The nickel mineralisation at its Decar project is in the form of naturally occurring awaruite (Ni3Fe), a nickel-iron raw material that resembles stainless steel. It has little or no sulphide content which means there is unlikely to be much acid mine drainage and the overall environmental impact of the project will be low.

The Baptiste deposit is one of the four targets within Decar and has been the focus of increasing resource definition (a total of 99 holes and 33,700 m of drilling completed), as well as environmental and engineering studies to evaluate its potential as a bulk-tonnage open pit mining project.

Canada’s low carbon funding programme

The funding came through Natural Resources Canada (NRC), Canada’s government department responsible for natural resources, and is part of the country’s wider plan to become a net-zero carbon emitter by 2050. Within that vision the NRC’s Critical Minerals Research, Development and Demonstration (CMRDD) programme finances pilot plants and demonstration projects to help develop the supply of critical minerals essential for renewable energy and clean technology applications. FPX Nickel was one of six companies allocated funding in this round with others being Sherritt International, E3 Lithium, Search Minerals, Geomega Resources and Prairie Lithium.

“We see tremendous opportunity for partnership and collaboration between industry and the federal government and First Nations on critical minerals projects such as Baptiste, and look forward to scaling up the production of battery-grade nickel sulphate and cobalt hydroxide from Baptiste,” said president and chief executive Martin Turenne.

The CMRDD-funded programme will include larger pilot-scale testing of the mineral processing flowsheet for the production of awaruite concentrate and will be followed by bench- and pilot-scale testing of the hydrometallurgical flowsheet to convert awaruite concentrate to nickel sulphate and cobalt hydroxide. This scale of test work will provide FPX with additional quantities of nickel and cobalt products to run a market validation programme with downstream consumers in the EV battery supply chain, including large battery companies and automakers.

Preliminary feasibility study anticipated imminently

The company’s upcoming preliminary feasibility study due to be released in the third quarter of this year is expected to demonstrate the technical and economic viability of producing battery materials.

The project is already underway and will be completed during the first quarter of 2024 with FPX Nickel expected to provide further details about the scope and objectives of the project before it starts the pilot-scale test work in the third quarter.

The Baptiste Deposit is located within the Baptiste Creek watershed, on the traditional and unceded territory of the Tl’azt’en Nation and Binche Whut’en First Nation, and within several Tl’azt’enne and Binche Whut’enne keyohs. FPX has conducted mineral exploration activities to date subject to the conditions of the company’s agreements with the Nations and keyoh holders.

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This article does not constitute investment advice. Make sure you do your own research or consult a professional advisor.

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