Booming demand for electric vehicles (EVs) and insufficient investment in processing looks likely to result in a global shortage of the metals needed to manufacture lithium-ion batteries, especially nickel. Global demand for nickel is set to increase dramatically over the next 20 years.
Against this backdrop, Altilium Group today announced an agreement with PT Indo Mineral Research, a member of the Sebuku Group, one of Indonesia’s largest mining groups, to co-operate in the development and promotion of the DNi Process™ in Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest reserves of nickel. The two companies have agreed to commit financial, technical and logistical resources to accelerate the adoption of the DNi Process™ and to play a key role in the EV battery supply chain.
Discussions are now underway with several parties to construct DNi Process™ plants in Indonesia, with the first plant likely to deliver at least 20,000 tonnes of nickel in mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP) a year, sufficient nickel and cobalt for the equivalent of around 500,000 and 250,000 lithium-ion batteries, respectively. In addition, the DNi Process™ will produce saleable products such as: hematite, magnesium oxide, aluminium hydroxide and scandium oxide.
The lack of sensitivity of the DNi Process™ to ore grade is one feature which has Indonesian resource owners excited. Because it can treat all the ore in a laterite mine and extracts all the metals available in that ore the economics of the process make the utilisation of low-grade ores both possible and profitable. Such features also set the DNi Process™ apart from existing metallurgical processes.
DNi Process™ plants will supply markets around the world. Currently, almost all the hydrometallurgical plants operating in Indonesia, which produce MHP, are Chinese owned or backed HPAL plants which supply the Chinese market.
Chris Gower, CEO of Altilium Group, said:
“The DNi Process™ is a win-win for Indonesia, the EV industry and the environment. We are very excited to take this first major step forward with the Sebuku Group. Together, we will help make Indonesia the premier producer of cleaner nickel and other metals which are needed to enable the mass adoption of EVs.”
Yoseph Swamidharma, Chief Research and Development Officer of the Sebuku Group said:
“We are delighted to be working with Altilium Group, whose ground-breaking DNi Process™ will, we believe, help to transform the nickel extraction industry. We look forward to a long and fruitful partnership.”
Crucially, the process has already been tested and the concept proven at a pilot plant located at the CSIRO facility in Waterford, Perth, Western Australia.
The first DNi Process™ plant, delivering 16,000 tonnes of nickel in MHP, is currently being developed by Queensland Pacific Metals Ltd (QPM) in Australia, with construction expected to commence in April 2022.
Altilium Group Ltd is a British company established in the UK in 2019. Its operating business has a much longer heritage, dating back to 2008 when it initially acquired the rights to the ground- breaking DNi Process™. In the early stages of development, the company worked closely with Australia’s highly respected Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), testing the process at a pilot plant in Perth, Australia. That test work, which was completed in 2014, delivered highly successful and encouraging results. The recent development of the EV industry delivered a new opportunity for the DNi Process™.
The Sebuku Group, consists of several companies in the coal and mineral, mining and processing sectors in Indonesia. PT Indo Mineral Research, one of its subsidiaries is in mining support services, especially in laboratory service and research in hydrometallurgical processing. One company in the Sebuku Group owns Indonesia’s largest iron lateritic ore reserves (JORC certified).