FPX Nickel completes pilot testing work for Baptiste nickel project, British Columbia

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FPX Nickel Corp. [TSXV-FPX; OTCQB-FPOCF] has successfully completed a large-scale mineral processing pilot testing campaign for the Baptiste nickel project, British Columbia, the first significant component of the continuing feasibility study (FS) metallurgical test work campaign.

Results from this test work confirm the 2023 preliminary feasibility study (PFS) basis, thereby validating FPX’s processing strategy, flow sheet, and key metallurgical criteria, including estimated recoveries. The pilot testing campaign was funded in part by a $725,000 grant from Natural Resources Canada under the Government of Canada’s Critical Minerals Research, Development and Demonstration program, which is advancing the commercial readiness of processing technologies that will support the development Canada’s EV battery material supply chain.

Highlights: Pilot-scale mineral processing test work is now complete, with metallurgical performance matching the 2023 PFS basis, confirming expected recoveries and other key performance criteria.

Testwork identified multiple opportunities to further optimize the mineral processing flow sheet through further process simplification. Testwork produced sufficient high-grade concentrate (60% nickel) for pilot-scale testing of the downstream hydrometallurgy refinery for the production of battery-grade nickel sulphate.

Preparations for the downstream hydrometallurgical refining pilot plant are underway, with results expected to be announced in the third quarter of 2024.

“These first results from our FS metallurgical test work program further validate the processing advantages of awaruite which were demonstrated in the Baptiste PFS,” commented Andrew Osterloh, FPX Nickel’s Senior Vice President, Projects & Operations. “Conducted with support from NRCan, this large-scale pilot program has demonstrated that the processing strategy, flow sheet, and metallurgical basis from the PFS are robust, and has identified further optimization opportunities to lower capital and operating costs. This is another positive step as we continue to advance Baptiste as a potential producer of disruptive quantities of low-carbon, low-cost, Canadian nickel.”

The company re-engaged Corem (Quebec, Canada) to conduct the FS pilot plant, building on their experience with previous piloting and numerous bench-scale programs for Baptiste. A total of 76 tonnes of material were processed in the pilot plant, resulting in approximately 9.9 days of continuous run-time in the primary grinding and magnetic separation circuits.

When operating under normal conditions, the FS pilot plant delivered metallurgical performance that closely matched the metallurgical performance assumed in the PFS. This includes stage-by-stage recoveries, as well as the ability to produce the high-grade nickel concentrate (60% nickel) envisioned in the PFS. While these were expected results, given the quality and scale of the PFS metallurgical test work program, the success of the FS pilot plant nevertheless provides further validation for the proposed Baptiste processing strategy, flow sheet, and metallurgical basis. Examples of the awaruite concentrates produced in the pilot plant are presented in Figures 2 and 3.

The awaruite concentrate generated during the mineral processing plant will now be used in the downstream hydrometallurgical refining pilot plant. FPX has re-engaged Sherritt Technologies Ltd. to conduct this test work, building on their successful completion of the previous batch-scale testing program in 2023.

As noted in the company’s news release dated May 17, 2023, the 2023 program successfully demonstrated FPX’s proposed refinery flow sheet can produce battery grade nickel sulphate at the batch-scale, and FS test work program will now aim to demonstrate similar findings at the pilot-scale. Preparations for this pilot plant are underway and results are expected to be announced in the third quarter of 2024.

The Baptiste mineral claims cover an area of 245 km2 west of Middle River and north of Trembleur Lake, in central British Columbia. In addition to the Baptiste Deposit itself, awaruite mineralization has been confirmed through drilling at several target areas within the same claims package, most notably at the Van Target which is located 6 km to the north of the Baptiste Deposit. Since 2010, approximately US $30 million has been spent on the exploration and development of Baptiste.

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

FPX Nickel Corp. is focused on the exploration and development of the Decar Nickel District, located in central British Columbia, and other occurrences of the same unique style of naturally occurring nickel-iron alloy mineralization known as awaruite.

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