The DNi Process™ uses nitric acid to dissolve and recover any saleable metal found in lateritic ores, tailings and waste material from other processes including, potentially, slag produced by ferro-nickel plants.
The unique and patent-protected aspect of the DNi Process™ is that 95% of the nitric acid is recycled (with 5% remaining in a nitrogen-rich residue).
Whilst originally developed to produce products for use in the steel industry, its flexible and smart chemistry enables the DNi Process™ to produce products ideally suited to refining for the EV battery market, principally nickel and cobalt, with a number of other saleable products produced such as haematite for the steel or pigment industry and magnesium oxide, which has many applications.
The DNi Process™ treats the entire lateritic ore profile, limonite, saprolite and any transition zone which may be present – maximising mine profitability. It is a flexible process able to adapt to changing market demands and can produce nickel metal or battery precursors (such as nickel sulphate, cobalt sulphate and cobalt oxide), an MHP or an MOP and extract any metal which will dissolve in nitric acid.
The DNi Process™ may also be applied to mine tailings and the waste products of pyro-metallurgical processes (subject to confirmation by testing).
The DNi Process™ is a hydrometallurgical process making it easily scalable and because nitric acid does not attack stainless steel, the materials of construction for the plant are inexpensive and easily sourced.
The DNi Process™ is environmentally sympathetic – setting it apart from any other hydrometallurgical or pyrometallurgical processes – and:
- with around half the tailings footprint of an HPAL plant (the only other hydrometallurgical process) of the same capacity (principally due to the recycling of the nitric acid and the addition of fewer neutralising agents)
- which produces inert, nitrogen-rich tailings (nitrates in processed residue break down to usable nitrogen for plant growth) – this may prove to be a major advantage in nitrogen deficient, high-rainfall tropical environments and a boost to local agriculture
- which lowers production costs and efficiently reduces associated environmental issues
- which produces magnesium oxide (MgO) without the creation of CO2 – a significant greenhouse gas.
The DNi Process™ is cost effective technology
The DNi Process™ will deliver nickel, cobalt and other co-products at a cheaper cost than any currently utilised technology.
- RBC Capital Market’s cost curve for the nickel industry reveals that the 75th percentile of the industry’s cash cost is $5.05 USD/lb, meaning that 25% of the world’s nickel producers will have negative cash flows as a result of $5.05 USD/lb spot price.
- Generally, for a healthy market, analysts look to the 90th percentile of the cost curve to suggest an sustainable price. In terms of the nickel market, the 90th percentile represents a cost of production of $7.85 USD/lb.
- Compared to the current nickel spot price of around $5.80 USD/lb, that is a 35% increase to reach a level at which 90% of producers will be able to produce nickel at a profit.
- By comparison:
- for a plant, producing 20,000 tonnes of contained nickel, the operating cost would be $2.27 per lb of nickel before you take into account co-product credits (from the sale of cobalt, haematite, MgO or other metals contained in the ore) – with G&A excluded)
- The operating cost for a 5,000 tpa Ni plant is estimated to be around $4.85/lb before the same credits and with G&A excluded.
The DNi Process™ utilises continuous, rapid tank leaching, to achieve high metal recovery rates, particularly of nickel and cobalt but also of haematite, magnesium oxide, scandium or any other metal which will dissolve in nitric acid.
The DNi Process™ delivers better economic use of the mined resource, effectively doubling mine utilisation.
The DNi Process™ does not require high pressures or high temperatures, or exotic materials of construction – with a minimum threshold plant size of around 5,000 tonnes per annum nickel output this is significantly smaller than the entry-level plant which competing technologies must build.