PNG cobalt, nickel demand to rise

PNG cobalt and nickel is positioned well to supply the demand for electronic-powered vehicles and energy storage batteries over the next 20 years.

According to a presentation by Highlands Pacific CEO, Craig Lennon, to an investment event held in Sydney recently, global forecasts show that electronic vehicles (EV) and storage battery demand will rise exponentially over the next 20 years.

EV sales are expected to reach just over 60 million by 2040.

By 2035 alone, it is forecasted that EV production will require an additional 1.8 million tons (Mt) nickel (Ni) and 679 kilotons (kt) of cobalt (Co).

Ramu Mine is the world’s fifth largest producer of cobalt, producing 3300 tons annually, which is 6 percent of global production, and produces the preferred MHP product for EVs.

Demand for nickel in the EV and energy storage batteries are expected to more than triple by 2025, reaching around 290kt.

The demand for cobalt and nickel also increases copper consumption, which is expected to surpass 300kt by 2025, supplying over 30 million stock for EVs.

The demand for these battery metal has seen cobalt prices shoot up 300 percent since 2016 while nickel and copper prices have grown steadily within the same period.

The Ramu Nickel Joint Venture Project, of which Highlands Pacific has an 8.56 percent stake, is currently reaching record cobalt and nickel production.

The mine is producing 3300 tons (t) and 3400t of cobalt and nickel respectively and with a resource reserve ready to deliver a 30-plus year life span, the country is positioned well to gain from the demand from these resources.

The expected Frieda Rive Mine and Star Mountain projects could also add significantly to these supply.

Cedric Patjole