Sunrise Energy Metals seeking to install $200 million nickel-cobalt refinery in US

Australia-based Sunrise Energy Metals is searching for a location in the US to build a nickel-cobalt refinery, the company confirmed to Fastmarkets

The estimated cost for the construction of the refinery, including contingency allowance, is more than $200 million. It will be designed to have the capacity of up to 25,000 tonnes per year of nickel (contained in high-grade nickel sulfate) and 7,000 tpy of cobalt – material produced in Sunrise’s nickelcobalt-scandium project in the southeastern Australian state of New South Wales (NSW).

Sunrise detailed that refined production could support up to approximately 1 million electric vehicles (EVs) per year.

According to Craig Sainsbury, a Sunrise spokesperson, it is still early days to say where exactly the refinery will be installed in the US and the timeframe for its construction. “We are still assessing options,” he said.

“We have had an initial discussion with the engineers to start the high-level thinking around where the plant could end in Australia and start in the US and what would be shipped to the US for refining,” Sainsbury told Fastmarkets. “Where we go to from here depends on what we think the technical stuff can look like, but [there] is more to do with what happens with the discussions in the US.”

Sunrise affirmed in its announcement that the company “continues to engage with a range of participants in the electric vehicle industry to underpin a complete financing package for the Sunrise Project.”

Regarding scandium, which will also be produced in the Sunrise Project in NSW, the company noted that discussions around [the] construction of a stand-alone scandium refinery on the US mainland have also been encouraging.

According to the company, “the US is the world’s largest consumer of scandium, in technologies as diverse as aluminium-alloys, fuel cells, hydrogen electrolyzers, power electronic components and 5G/6G telecommunications components.”

The supply of raw materials for these refining facilities has not yet been decided — whether it will be done solely by the NSW plant or from other market participants.

“We are still assessing options, but the plant will be aligned to the feedstock from NSW,” Sainsbury said.

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