Prony Resources lowers Goro production following waste dam leak

Prony Resources lowers Goro production following waste dam leak

The owner of the nickel and cobalt operation in New Caledonia reported a “limited release of salt-laden liquid” from its tailings dam following heavy rains in August. 

Blue View

Prony Resources (Prony) has operated the Goro nickel mine and processing plant since its acquisition from Vale in April 2021. The recently formed New Caledonian consortium brings together New Caledonian investors, Trafigura, and other international investors. Significantly, the deal also included an industrial advisory partnership with EV producer, Tesla, demonstrating the EV producers’ desire for varying degrees of control over its raw material procurement.

Prior to the sale by Vale, the Goro operation was redesigned to no longer produce nickel oxide, instead focusing entirely on the production of nickel hydroxide cake (NHC) to target the battery supply chain. The operation has since performed well with output of NHC totalling 19.7kt Ni in the first three quarters of 2022. However, full-year production will now be dented by the tailings leak: in accordance with corrective measures required by local authorities, nickel output will be cut in the fourth quarter.

The disposal and safe storage of tailings, produced after hydrometallurgical processing of laterite ores, remains a key ESG concern in the production of battery-grade nickel. Given the low nickel and cobalt contents, the waste associated with processing these ores is stark. With this in mind, Prony (and previously Vale) had already been undertaking the “Lucy” project at Goro. This aimed at drying tailings and reducing the chemical concentration of mining residues by keeping the stored process water to a minimum.

This latest development will draw further ESG scrutiny to the nickel supply chain and force OEMs to make tough procurement decisions in the face of strong stakeholder pressure. Certain practices will be unacceptable to western OEMs whose customers are, for the large part, inherently environmentally conscious.

  • 17 Nov 2022
  • Prony Resources
  • Cobalt
  • Nickel

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