The project would process ore from New Caledonia into nickel sulphate and cobalt sulphate and high purity alumina and promises to have almost no waste.
The company recenty struck a deal with the Port of Townsville for access.
QPM’s Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub has memorandums of understanding with LG Chem and Samsung SDI for offtake from the project. It has previously been estimated to cost about $550 million but QPM has not provided an update on new costs for a project that would be at least double the size and the company has started a definitive feasibility study.
“From these discussions, it was evident to QPM that increasing production of key battery materials, nickel and cobalt, would increase the appeal of the project to offtakers,” QPM said.
The initial plan was for production of about 600,ooo wet tonnes a year.
“The increase in size will also allow QPM to benefit from large economies of scale, which will improve capital efficiency and project economics of the TECH project,” it said.
“The TECH project will be scaled up to process 1.2 to 1.5 million wet tonnes a year, with the final size to be determined by the definitive feasibility study.”
It said it would be assessing additional ore supply, including from its own Sewa Bay project in Papua New Guinea, which it bought last year. It said it was confident it secure additional ore.
It was also confident of buying additional gas and power and it expected the project could hold the prospect of becoming a baseload customer.
There are opportunities for additional power into Townsville including from planned renewable projects inland along the route of the CopperString transmission project.
Chief executive Stephen Grocott said the company was clearing obstacles and work done so far had created an optimal development path.
QPM’s shares have risen more than 30 per cent since the start of the year with a strong rally in the past week lifting to 10 cents a share.