Cougar Metals has undertaken a test work programme using innovative hydrometallurgical extraction process for potential implementation at its Pyke Hill Nickel Cobalt Laterite Project located east of Leonora, Western Australia.
|Pyke Hill Ni-Co project location map|
Cougar has carried out an initial test work programme utilising historic reverse circulation (RC) drill spoil taken from surface at Pyke Hill.
Following a review of the initial programme, the company determined that a more detailed series of tests was warranted, resulting in a drilling programme currently being designed to retrieve representative metallurgical scale samples from the high-grade nickel and cobalt zones of the Pyke Hill orebody for use in the next phase of test work.
Cougar’s Executive Chairman, Randal Swick commented that the company was very encouraged by these initial results.
“Although being still in the early stages of investigating the process, we believe that it it has the potential to provide Cougar with a near-term, low-cost route to production at Pyke Hill,” Mr Swick said.
The hydrometallurgical extraction process was developed by Dr Willer Pos, a former director of AngloGold Ashanti in Brazil who originally devised the process routes to extract metals from secondary sources. These processes have been adapted for the extraction of a range of metals from varying ore types, including nickel and cobalt from laterites.
The hydrometallurgical process is yet to be fully optimised and currently utilises a short leach time (sub 30 minutes) conducted at atmospheric pressure and with no additional heat. A commercial operation with these parameters would result in a significantly lower capital expenditure requirement compared to current and other alternative processing routes.
“One of the key factors on the path to commercialisation will be determining if the process can be appropriately scaled, and we are currently in the final stages of planning a follow-up test work programme that will allow us to gain a clearer understanding of this important aspect,” concluded Mr Swick.