CO2 absorbing potential of Wellgreen
Tailings from Yukon nickel-PGM deposit may absorb GHG North of 60 Mining News – June 17, 2022
Last updated 6/23/2022 at 2:40pm
Recent analysis by University of British Columbia Professor Greg Dipple indicates that tailings from a mine at the Wellgreen nickel-copper-cobalt-platinum group metals deposit on Nickel Creek Platinum Corp.'s Nickel Shäw project in southeastern Yukon could absorb large quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
About 15 years ago, Dipple realized that ultramafic rocks such as those that host the nickel-rich mineralization at Wellgreen are among the largest carbon capture and storage reservoirs on Earth. The carbon-absorbing potential of these igneous rocks with a high magnesium and iron content, however, is limited when they are buried away from the atmosphere.
Brucite, a highly CO2-reactive mineral form of magnesium hydroxide found in ultramafic rocks, is particularly good at absorbing carbon and transforming it into a solid magnesium carbonate that is stable on a geological timescale.
Mining and grinding of brucite-enriched ultramafic rocks to a sand-like consistency during the process of recovering the nickel, PGMs, and other metals maximizes the CO2 sequestering potential of these igneous rocks.
Over the last couple of years, Dipple has completed testing that indicates nickel projects in British Columbia, and now the Yukon, host enough brucite that the tailings and waste rock generated from mining has the potential to absorb large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere – possibly more than is emitted by the mine.
Carbon-neutral nickel would be a prized commodity for lithium-ion battery and electric vehicle manufacturers that need large quantities of this battery metal. Lowering the CO2 footprint of materials going into the batteries powering EVs and storing intermittent green energy would offer an environmental, social, and governance advantage in the eyes of climate-conscientious consumers.
Dipple's studies into the CO2-absorbing potential of brucite at nickel mines won his company, Carbin Minerals, $1 million from XPRIZE, a global future-positive movement envisioned by Tesla CEO Elon Musk and supported by his foundation.
More information on Carbin Minerals and XPRIZE can be read at Carbon capture mining tech wins XPRIZE in the April 25, 2022 edition of Metal Tech News – https://www.metaltechnews.com/story/2022/04/27/mining-tech/carbon-capture-mining-tech-wins-xprize/921.html.
Now, preliminary testing by the UBC professor that founded the award-winning Carbin Minerals has shown that Nickel Creek's Wellgreen deposit hosts significant amounts of CO2 absorbing brucite that could raise the ESG value of future nickel mined from this Yukon project.
"We started this work with Dr. Dipple in order to work towards an understanding of the potential carbon absorption of our tailings and waste rock that will reduce or even eliminate our greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint," said Nickel Creek Platinum President and CEO Stuart Harshaw. "Having a low carbon nickel product will be beneficial to the downstream processers of our nickel, especially the EV market, where reducing the carbon footprint is a critical part of the green economy."
According to a 2018 estimate, the Wellgreen deposit hosts 323.4 million metric tons of measured and indicated resources averaging 0.26% (1.9 billion pounds) nickel; 0.16% (1.1 billion lb) copper; 0.25 grams per metric ton (2.6 million oz) platinum; 0.26 g/t (2.6 million oz) palladium; 0.05 g/t (480,000 oz) gold, and 0.015% (110.2 million lb) cobalt.
The deposit also hosts 108.1 million metric tons of inferred resources at similar grades, and the Nickel Shäw property covers 18 kilometers (11 miles) of the highly prospective ultramafic rocks that host the deposit.
Drilling carried out at the Arch target, which lies about three kilometers (1.9 miles) northwest of the Wellgreen deposit, cut significant nickel and platinum group metals.
Highlights from the 12 holes drilled at Arch in 2021 include:
• 22.79 meters averaging 0.33% nickel, 0.21% copper, 0.02% cobalt, 0.34 g/t platinum, 0.54% palladium, and 0.05 g/t gold from a depth of six meters in hole ASD21-007.
• 11.2 meters averaging 0.89% nickel, 0.38% copper, 0.03% cobalt, 0.03 g/t platinum, 0.82 g/t palladium, and 0.05 g/t gold from a depth of 77 meters in hole ASD21-008.
The hole ASD21-008 intercept included a 2.09-meter high-grade subsection averaging 3.68% nickel, 1.14% copper, 0.07% cobalt, 0.7 g/t platinum, 1.4 g/t palladium, and 0.02 g/t gold in hole ASD21-008.
The Arch target and similar prospects to the southeast of Wellgreen indicate the prospectivity for a much larger resource at Nickel Shäw.
This large nickel-copper-platinum group metals-cobalt property also has the advantage of being just a few miles south of the Alaska Highway and already has an access road connecting Wellgreen to this iconic northern roadway.
With its combined advantages, Nickel Shäw may attract the attention of EV manufacturers scrambling to secure adequate supplies of nickel, especially if the lithium-ion battery metal would come with a smaller carbon footprint.