Nickel produced by Thakadu Battery Materials; PHOTO: Thakadu website

JOHANNESBURG – Thakadu Battery Materials on Thursday made its first drawdown under an R152 million loan facility agreement between its operating subsidiary Lonix, and the Industrial Development Corporation for the completion of its nickel sulphate purification plant. 

In 2016, Thakadu announced it would be constructing an R250 million high-purity battery-grade nickel sulphate plant at Lonmin's base metals refinery in North West after the platinum-mining company agreed to supply its crude nickel sulphate stream to the former.

More than 60 permanent jobs are expected to be created once the plant is fully operational, with an additional 200 employment opportunities during construction.

Thakadu said that on-site, civil and building works were at an advanced stage with overhead cranes load tested and ready for modular plant installation. 

The first row of process modules has been completed and tested at the fabrication workshop after the construction of the modular plant began in early June at Styria Stainless Steel in Wadeville, Johannesburg.

The first row will be installed on site before the December construction break with the sequential installation and parallel construction process expected to be complete in five to six months. Completion of the motor control centre is on schedule for an end of January 2019. 

The beneficiator said its plant was on track for cold commissioning commencing end April 2019, with commercial production planned for the end of first half in 2019. The plant will have the capacity to produce an annual 25,000 tonnes of high-purity battery-grade nickel sulphate.

"We are very excited to be pioneering the responsible supply of battery raw materials from South Africa for electric vehicles, at the same time as the ratio of nickel in lithium-ion batteries is set to increase," Thakadu chief executive Ruli Diseko said.

African News Agency (ANA)