BASF, Ludwigshafen, Germany, and Eramet, Paris, France, have signed an agreement to jointly assess the development of a state-of-the-art nickel and cobalt hydrometallurgical refining complex. Such a development would include a High-Pressure Acid Leaching (HPAL) plant and a Base Metal Refinery (BMR). The HPAL would be located in Weda Bay, Indonesia, while the location of the BMR will be determined during the feasibility study.
The HPAL plant will process locally secured mining ore from the Weda Bay deposit to produce a nickel and cobalt intermediate. Since the acquisition of Weda Bay in 2007, Eramet carried out extensive geological work and confirmed the potential of this world-class deposit whose mining operations started at the end of 2019. The BMR will supply nickel and cobalt to produce precursor cathode active materials (PCAM) and then cathode active materials (CAM) for lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles.
Securing access to raw materials, especially nickel, is a critical component to support the strong growth in the global electric vehicle value chain. The share of high nickel CAM is rising to meet the demand for higher energy density batteries and reduce overall battery costs, and Weda Bay’s resources rank among the most competitive globally for addressing this demand. The planned development will provide BASF access to an additional secure source of 42,000 metric tons of nickel and 5,000 metric tons of cobalt annually from mines operating according to internationally recognized sustainability standards.
The project targets a start-up of the HPAL and BMR facilities in the mid-2020s and will commence in the first phase feasibility study with limited funding.
“With Eramet, we have a responsible and experienced partner to supply raw materials for our battery materials production,” said Dr. Peter Schuhmacher, President, Catalysts division at BASF. “As a global supplier, BASF offers a full solution from metals to innovative CAM products in support of our battery materials customers around the world.”
Christel Bories, Chairman and CEO of Eramet commented: “We aim to develop mining, refining and recycling projects with a fully integrated approach throughout the EV value chain. Partnering with BASF is a unique opportunity in line with our strategy to provide a solid and sustainable supply for the batteries industry”.