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:: ENK Logs First Nickel Production from Acoje Pilot Plant in Philippines
ENK Plc has achieved the first nickel production from its Acoje pilot plant in the Philippines, less than ten months after being on care and maintenance.
The plant for the Acoje Nickel Project, located 250 kilometres north of Manila, produced about 50kg of dry weight nickel hydroxide product (NHP) from the filter press yesterday, and initial assays of the NHP at bench top level contained about 49% nickel and 4% iron.
Robert Gregory, ENK's managing director, said "it is a magnificent effort by the Acoje team to go from being on care and maintenance last year to building and commissioning the pilot plant ten months later". The plant can produce about 200kg of NHP per month by "utilising ion exchange for Ni-Co separation and purification to process pregnant leach solution from the heap leach trial pad followed by precipitation of the Ni as NHP," according to the company.
The initial NHP will be sent to potential off-takers for evaluation and future production from the pilot plant is expected to include a trace iron NHP and a 50% cobalt carbonate product.
Significantly, NHP has wider market appeal than the MHP (mixed hydroxide product) previously produced at ENK's Caldag project, due to lower metal impurities.
The Acoje Bankable Feasibility Study (BFS) for an atmospheric nickel leaching project remains on track to be completed in the second quarter of 2012.
Test work also continues on Atmospheric pressure Tank Leach (ATL) upstream processing in China which has the potential to provide an alternative leaching process to Heap Leaching.
The ATL test work will be completed by late November, when a decision will be made on which leaching process will be taken forward to the BFS .
Once up and running Acoje is expected to produce 24,500 tonnes of contained nickel and 930 tonnes of contained cobalt a year. At the moment the Acoje has a 10 year mine life however, according to ENK, the current resource drill program should significantly lengthen the life of mine.
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