Sunrise Energy Metals has said it is evaluating locating a refinery for nickel and cobalt in the United States, citing “ongoing engagement” with automotive manufacturers and government agencies in the nation.
The company (formerly known as Clean TeQ Holdings) is developing the Sunrise Nickel-Cobalt-Scandium Project in Central West New South Wales, which was awarded Major Project Status by the federal government in 2021.
Nickel sulphate and cobalt sulphate are key raw materials for battery manufacture, and scandium is a metal with uses including lightweighting in aluminium alloys.
The NSW site is reportedly one of the world’s largest nickel/cobalt deposits.
Sunrise told shareholders on Thursday morning that it continues to work with a “range of participants in the electric vehicle industry” on a financing package for the site.
Siting a refinery in the US would satisfy eligibility criteria under critical mineral-related initiatives, including Department of Energy (DoE) funds under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law; Title III eligibility under the Defense Production Act; and the DoE’s US$20 billion Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program.
“Our meetings in the US have been very constructive and the feedback we’ve received has set the foundation for a strategic rethink of the project scope,” said Sam Riggall, Sunrise CEO.
“As regional funding options emerge, we will continue to assess the best way to deliver the Project, while working closely with supply chain partners to deliver a comprehensive financing package.”
According to the statement, establishing a refinery would cost an estimated $US 200 million, with design capacity of 25 kilotonnes per annum of nickel (contained in high-grade nickel sulphate) and 7 kilotonnes per annum of cobalt (contained in cobalt sulphate).
Refined production could support up to approximately a million electric vehicles per annum.
It added that discussions on potential construction of a stand-alone scandium refinery in the US were “encouraging.” A scandium extraction and refinery plant would cost an estimated $US 24 million, it said.
Picture: credit Sunrise Energy Metals