Nickel plays a vital role in electric vehicle (EV) and battery manufacturing, a sector that sees rapid expansion year after year. Market research projects a growing nickel demand to reach upwards of 1.3 million metric tonnes per annum by 2030 as nickel content in electric vehicles increases to over 40 kilograms per car battery.
Despite its significant role in powering a global shift to greener energies, analysts also project an undersupply of nickel for the next several years due to decreasing production and a lack of new active mines. Mining companies operating high-grade nickel projects offer investors exposure to a market that has great economic growth and success potential.
One such company is FPX Nickel (TSXV:FPX
, OTXQB:FPOCF), focused on exploring and developing its wholly owned advanced development-stage Tier 1 Baptiste project in the Decar Nickel District in central British Columbia. The company’s project developments demonstrate the Decar Nickel District’s potential to supply high-concentration nickel and cobalt sulfates suitable for the growing electric vehicle battery industry, as well as more traditional markets for nickel such as stainless steel.
The Decar Nickel District hosts the Baptiste project, which leverages an existing 2020 preliminary economic assessment (PEA) and mineral resource estimate. Together, these NI 43-101 compliant reports show the Baptiste project has the potential to become one of the world’s largest-scale, lowest-cost nickel producers. The positive geological interpretation of the Van target at Decar offers further blue sky potential for the Decar property.
The Decar Nickel District project can potentially mimic the successes of its geographic neighbors such as New Gold’s (TSX:NGD, NYSEMKT:NGD) C$1.8 billion Blackwater Gold open-pit project.
FPX Nickel released an updated PEA for the Baptiste project in 2020. According to the report, at the PEA base case of US$7.75 /lb nickel, the Baptiste Project is expected to generate an after-tax net present value of US$1.7 billion and an after-tax internal rate of return of 18.3 percent.
The Baptiste project presents FPX Nickel with the potential to produce refined nickel with a significantly lower carbon footprint than other sources of production in the global nickel industry. Recent leach testing of awaruite nickel concentrates produced from Baptiste achieved nickel recoveries of 98.8 percent to 99.5 percent in producing a high-purity chemical solution containing 69.4 to 70.1 g/L nickel.
FPX Nickel aims to build a carbon-neutral mining operation at the Baptiste project. In keeping with that goal, FPX Nickel, along with mining companies, such as Anglo American majority-owned (LSE:AAL,OTCQX:AAUKF) DeBeers, and the Government of Canada have co-founded a multi-university research program to study carbon capture and storage at mining sites.
FPX Nickel’s management team consists of highly experienced capital markets and mining professionals, including Canadian Mining Hall of Fame member Dr. Peter Bradshaw, veteran geologist aRob Pease.
- FPX Nickel is a Canadian resource company focused on exploring and developing its wholly-owned advanced development-stage Baptiste nickel project in the Decar Nickel District, central British Columbia.
- The company favorably leverages a low-cost operation and mining best practices. It operates one of the few major nickel deposits in the mining-friendly jurisdiction of British Columbia.
- The Baptiste property hosts high-grade nickel mineralization with low impurities and little to no sulfides. This production-quality asset has potential applications for direct feed to stainless steel or the electric vehicle battery market, with recoveries coming in at 98.8 percent to 99.5 percent.
- FPX Nickel operates a tight share structure consisting largely of management and other strategic high net-worth and institutional shareholders at approximately 18.5 percent and 35 percent holding, respectively.
- Baptiste’s amended PEA highlights the project’s potential to be among the world’s lowest-cost nickel mines in operating costs and capital intensity.
- FPX Nickel has engaged Next Mine Consulting Ltd. to prepare an updated mineral resource estimate for the Baptiste Project, which it expects to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2022.
Decar Nickel District – Baptiste Project
The Decar Nickel District covers 245 square kilometers and 80 kilometers west of the Mt. Milligan mine, central British Columbia. The property hosts the highly prospective Baptiste nickel project, which has the potential to become the world’s best development-stage nickel project. The asset is accessible via logging and paved road, with railway and hydropower nearby.
In February 2021, the company released results from initial field tests, demonstrating the potential for significant direct air carbon capture in the tailings on the property. “These exciting results mark an important step in our objective to develop Baptiste as the world’s first large-scale, carbon-neutral nickel operation,” commented FPX Nickel president and CEO Martin Turenne.
Baptiste hosts nickel-iron alloy mineralization, bulk-tonnage potential and open-pit nickel mining possibilities across its four primary targets. Exploration has also indicated resources at an average grade of 0.123 percent DTR nickel for 2.3 million tonnes and 391 million tonnes of inferred resources with an average grade of 0.115 percent DTR nickel.
Next Mine Consulting has been tasked to prepare an updated mineral resource estimate for the Baptiste project. This update is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2022.
In September 2022, the company completed a 2,504-metre step-out drilling program at its Van target in the Decar Nickel District. The completed holes stepped out aggressively from the initial discovery area, testing the potential for nickel mineralization up to 1 km west of the holes drilled in 2021. Assays from the program are pending, and the first results are expected to be reported by the company in November 2022.
Martin Turenne, CA - President, CEO & Director
Martin Turenne is a senior executive with over 15 years of experience in the commodities industry, including over five years in the mining industry. He has extensive leadership experience in strategic management, fundraising, economic analysis, financial reporting, regulatory compliance and corporate tax. Turenne formerly served as CFO of First Point Minerals Corp. from 2012 to 2015 and in positions at KPMG LLP and Methanex Corporation. He is a member of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants.
Andrew Osterloh - Vice-President, Projects
With more than 20 years in the industry, Andrew Osterloh is experienced in process engineering, plant metallurgy and project management. He was formerly the project director and head of studies for Fluor Canada, leading feasibility study work for large base metal assets.
J. Christopher Mitchell, P.Eng., MBA - Chief Financial Officer and Corporate Secretary
J. Christopher Mitchell is a business consultant with more than 40 years of experience in the mineral industry. He previously served as senior vice-president of Viceroy Resource Corp., and executive vice-president and CFO of Orvana Minerals Corp. Mitchell holds an MBA and M.Sc. from the University of British Columbia, and is a member of the Association of Professional Engineers of British Columbia. He is also a director of Endurance Gold Corp.
Dr. Peter M. D. Bradshaw, P.Eng. - Chairman
Dr. Peter Bradshaw is a geologist with 45 years of international mineral exploration experience in more than 30 countries with Barringer Research, Placer Dome and Orvana Minerals. He is a member of the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame. Bradshaw’s key discoveries and project involvement include: Porgera Gold Mine, Papua New Guinea; Kidston Gold Mine, Queensland, Australia; Misima Gold Mine, Papua New Guinea; Big Bell Gold Mine, Western Australia; Omai Gold Mine, Guyana; Decar Nickel Project, British Columbia, Canada; director of Aquila Resources; co-founder and first chairman of the Mineral Deposit Research Unit, University of British Columbia.
Rob Pease, P. Geo. - Director
Rob Pease is a geologist with more than 30 years of experience in exploration, mine development and construction. He is the former CEO of Terrane Metals, acquired by Thompson Creek for CAD$650 million. Pease was also the former director of Richfield Ventures, acquired by New Gold for CAD$500 million. He is a director of Pure Gold Mining Inc. and Liberty Gold Corp.
William H. Myckatyn - Director
William Myckatyn is a mining engineer with over 34 years of experience in the mining industry. Myckatyn is the founder and CEO of Quadra Mining Ltd. He served as chairman and subsequently co-chairman of Quadra FNX Mining until its takeover in 2012. Prior to this, Myckatyn was chairman, president and CEO of Dayton Mining Corp., where he led the restructuring and merger with Pacific Rim Mining Corp. He also served as the former president and CEO of Princeton Mining and Gibraltar Mines Ltd. For over 17 years, he worked for various operations controlled by Placer Dome Inc. and its associated predecessor companies, including four separate mines in Australia and the Philippines. He is a director of San Marco Resources and OceanaGold.
Peter Marshall, P. Eng. - Director
Peter Marshall is a mining engineer with 30 years of experience in mine development and construction. Marshall was formerly VP of project development at New Gold and SVP project development at Terrane Metals. He has extensive mine development experience in central British Columbia, including completing the Blackwater gold project feasibility study and development, and early construction of Mt. Milligan copper-gold mine, acquired by Thompson Creek for C$650 million in 2010.
James S. Gilbert, MBA - Director
James Gilbert has more than 30 years of investment and transaction execution experience, with more than 20 years focused on the international mining and metals industry. Gilbert held senior management positions with Rothschild, Gerald Metals Inc. and Minera S.A., a private mining investment company. His experience covers mergers and acquisitions, debt and equity financing, off-take and specialty refining agreements, joint venture negotiations and strategic marketing. He was formerly director of AQM Copper Inc., acquired by Teck Resources in 2016.
Anne Currie - Director
Anne Currie is a recognized leader in the permitting of major Canadian mining projects, with over 30 years of experience in the private and public sector, including as a former senior partner with the leading global consultancy Environmental Resources Management, and in her prior role as British Columbia's chief gold commissioner, the chief regulatory authority for the Mineral Tenure Act. She has exceptional track record in steering the environmental assessment and permitting processes for major mining projects in British Columbia, including for the KSM, Brucejack, Kemess Underground and Blackwater projects.
Dan Apai - Engineering Manager
Dan Apai has over twenty years of mining industry experience in civil engineering and engineering management over a diverse range of projects. In his previous role as principal civil engineer for Fluor Canada, he led study and detailed engineering works for numerous large-scale mining projects for clients including Teck, Newmont, BHP, First Quantum, Glencore, Josemaria Resources and Newcrest. Apai's technical expertise includes site layout, earthworks, water management, linear facilities (i.e., roads, powerlines, pipelines), and water supply systems – all elements that strongly influence the capital intensity, permitability, and operability of mining projects. Apai is a member of the Association of Professional Engineers of British Columbia and holds a Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Western Australia .