Vancouver, January 17, 2023 – FPX Nickel Corp. (TSX-V: FPX, OTCQB: FPOCF) (“FPX” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce the commencement of a preliminary feasibility study (“PFS”) for the Baptiste Nickel Project (“Baptiste” or “the Project”) in central British Columbia. The PFS will mark the culmination of the extensive de-risking and optimization program that has been undertaken since the issuance of the 2020 preliminary economic assessment (“2020 PEA”). The PFS is expected to be completed in September 2023.
- The PFS will present a mature project basis, integrating FPX’s extensive de-risking and optimization program undertaken since the 2020 PEA
- The PFS will present two strategic options, including:
- Base Case – production of a high-grade awaruite concentrate (50-65% Ni) for direct feed to the stainless steel market, utilizing a simple and robust concentrator flowsheet that is only possible due to Baptiste’s awaruite mineralization
- Option – further upgrading of the high-grade awaruite concentrate to produce battery-grade nickel sulphate and cobalt-rich products for the electric vehicle battery supply chain, utilizing moderate leaching conditions and standard hydrometallurgical unit operations
- The PFS will be prepared by a team of industry-leading consultants, all of whom have meaningfully contributed to the Project’s de-risking and optimization program since the 2020 PEA, thus maintaining strong continuity in the ongoing development of Baptiste
“The PFS will mark the culmination of several years of robust project de-risking and optimization activities, including resource definition drilling, engineering trade-off studies, baseline studies and pilot-scale metallurgical test programs,” commented Martin Turenne, the Company’s President and CEO. “Since completion of the 2020 PEA, we have consistently applied a major company-style mindset to project development, and believe the PFS will confirm Baptiste as a peer-leading development-stage nickel project, highlighting its potential for large-scale, low-cost and low-carbon nickel production spanning multiple decades.”
The PFS will mark the culmination of an extensive de-risking and optimization program that has been undertaken since the issuance of the 2020 PEA. With data collection and fundamental optionality largely addressed during the post-PEA work program, FPX is confident that the PFS can be executed in an efficient manner, and the team will be able to focus on maximizing the project’s technical and commercial maturity. Key work elements since the 2020 PEA and their respective impact on the PFS base case are presented in Table 1.
The PFS will present a base case of a mine and concentrator facility to produce a high-grade awaruite concentrate (50-65% Ni) which can be directly fed to the stainless steel industry without intermediate processing. As a strategic alternative, the PFS will present an option to further refine the high-grade awaruite concentrate within a standalone, off-site refinery to produce both battery-grade nickel sulphate and cobalt-rich products for the electric vehicle battery supply chain. This highly flexible approach is due to Baptiste’s unique mineralogy and the resultant simple flowsheets for the production of high-value concentrate and sulphate products.
Table 1 – Baptiste Nickel Project: Summary of De-Risking & Optimization Program Since 2020 PEA
|Geology & Resource Estimate||Completion of an in-fill drilling program, targeting conversion of near-surface, high-grade inferred resources to the indicated category.||Drill results converted inferred resources to indicated resources, as per Company objective.|
See FPX News Release dated March 14, 2022
|Completion of an updated resource estimate incorporating 2021’s in-fill drilling, combined with a new geological modelling approach and improved dike model.||2022 mineral resource estimate achieved a 6% Davis Tube Recoverable (“DTR”) Ni grade increase for indicated resources as compared to 2020 mineral resource estimate.|
2022 mineral resource estimated included first-time reporting of Total Ni, DTR Co, and DTR Fe, providing the opportunity for potential inclusion of secondary products within the PFS economic basis.
See FPX News Release dated November 14, 2022
|Metallurgy||Phase 1 – Grindability and initial pilot-scale testwork on both mine phase and master composites||A mature dataset supporting PFS-level design criteria.|
See FPX News Release dated December 8, 2021
|Phase 2 – Mineralogy on both mine phase and master composites; and flotation testwork on master composite||A mature dataset to support PFS-level design criteria.|
See FPX News Release dated July 27, 2022
|Phase 3a – Larger-scale pilot testwork to validate the PFS flowsheet||Results both validate the PFS flowsheet as well as confirm tangible process benefits in plant-scale processing.|
See FPX News Release dated July 27, 2022 for initial results. Full results will be released in late January 2023.
|Phase 3b – Variabilty testwork on the concentrator flowsheet and optimization testwork on the hydrometallurgical refinery flowsheet for production of nickel sulphate||Testwork in progress to further support design criteria.|
Results forecast for release in April 2023.
|Geotechnical||Completion of phased geotechnical and hydrogeological site investigation programs in 2021 and 2022. Historic open-pit geotechnical data analyzed to provide more mature open-pit design criteria.||Suitable site characterization information now available for PFS design and estimating purposes.|
|Engineering Studies||Focusing on project elements having the strongest influence on overall project value, a series of de-risking and optimization trade-off studies were conducted.||Project value improved through:|
· Change to SAG (semi-autogenous grinding) mill comminution
· A phased development approach with a smaller scale of initial development as compared to the 2020 PEA approach
· A detailed alternatives assessment of all available mine waste management strategies identified several viable alternatives, with the lowest overall risk option to be carried forward to the PFS
· Improved understanding of linear facility options (road and power corridors) and economics
· Evaluation of multiple mine planning scenarios, improving the metal production profile, optimizing hauling distances and overall footprint
See FPX News Release dated June 9, 2022
|Environmental & Cultural Baseline Studies||Execution of 2021 baseline readiness reconnaisance program, following by resumption of full environmental and cultural baseline studies in 2022, utilizing an Indigenous-led process which involves signifcant contributions from local stakeholders.||Collaborative approach with local stakeholders has produced high quality results on schedule.|
|Indigenous Engagement||A comphrehensive Memorandum of Agreement was signed with the Binche Whut’en First Nation, which provides support to FPX’s project development activities.||See FPX News Release dated June 21, 2022|
The PFS will fully incorporate de-risking and optimization results as summarized in Table 1. The PFS will be conducted with the assistance of industry-leading service providers, and the collective team will produce a fully integrated National Instrument 43-101 compliant technical report. Key service providers have all meaningfully contributed to previous Project works, which reduces both technical, commercial, and schedule risks. Key service providers contributing to the PFS are presented in Table 2.
Table 2 – Key Service Providers Contributing to the PFS
|Participant||Scope of Responsibility||First Engaged on the Project|
|Ausenco Engineering Canada Ltd.||Process, infrastructure, and overall PFS integration||Q4-2021|
|Knight Piésold Ltd.||Tailings, water management, and geotechnical||Q2-2021|
|Onsite Engineering Ltd.||Site access road||Q4-2021|
|Carisbrooke Ltd.||Off-site power system||Q4-2021|
|Next Mine Consulting||Geological modelling and resource estimation||Q4-2021|
|Jeff Austin||Metallurgical consultant and Qualified Person||2018|
|Shas-Ti (an Ecofor Consulting and Binche Whut’en joint venture)||Environmental and cultural baseline studies||Q1-2022|
|ERM||Hydrology and meteorology||Q1-2021|
In addition to the technical work conducted since the PEA, the Company has also focused efforts on understanding the current project execution environment, including both cost escalation and schedule considerations. FPX and its consultants have reviewed recently constructed major concentrator projects as well as regional mining projects, and learnings from both efforts will bolster PFS execution planning and cost estimating efforts. With the resultantly mature technical and commercial basis presented in the PFS, the Company is confident that Baptiste’s large scale, long life, favourable jurisdiction, and low-carbon intensity will support the continued development of the Project as a preferred feed source to either or both of the stainless steel and electric vehicle battery supply chains.
Andrew Osterloh, P.Eng., FPX Nickel’s Qualified Person under NI 43-101, has reviewed and approved the technical content of this news release.
About the Decar Nickel District
The Company’s Decar Nickel District claims cover 245 km2 of the Mount Sidney Williams ultramafic/ophiolite complex, 90 km northwest of Fort St. James in central British Columbia. The district is a two-hour drive from Fort St. James on a high-speed logging road.
Decar hosts a greenfield discovery of nickel mineralization in the form of a naturally occurring nickel-iron alloy called awaruite (Ni3Fe), which is amenable to bulk-tonnage, open-pit mining. Awaruite mineralization has been identified in four target areas within this ophiolite complex, being the Baptiste Deposit, and the B, Sid and Van targets, as confirmed by drilling, petrographic examination, electron probe analyses and outcrop sampling on all four targets. Since 2010, approximately US $28 million has been spent on the exploration and development of Decar.
Of the four targets in the Decar Nickel District, the Baptiste Deposit, which was initially the most accessible and had the largest known surface footprint, has been the focus of diamond drilling since 2010, with a total of 99 holes and 33,700 m of drilling completed. The Sid target was tested with two holes in 2010 and the B target had a single hole drilled in 2011; all three holes intersected nickel-iron alloy mineralization over wide intervals with DTR nickel grades comparable to the Baptiste Deposit. In 2021, the Company executed an inaugural drilling program at Van which returned results comparable with the strongest results at Baptiste. In 2022, the Company executed a step-out drilling program at Van which demonstrated a sizeable expansion of the mineralized zone identified in the 2021 program.
About FPX Nickel Corp.
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. For more information, please view the Company’s website at www.fpxnickel.com or contact Martin Turenne, President and CEO, at (604) 681-8600 or [email protected].
On behalf of FPX Nickel Corp.
Martin Turenne, President, CEO and Director
Certain of the statements made and information contained herein is considered “forward-looking information” within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities laws. These statements address future events and conditions and so involve inherent risks and uncertainties, as disclosed in the Company’s periodic filings with Canadian securities regulators. Actual results could differ from those currently projected. The Company does not assume the obligation to update any forward-looking statement.
Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.