TMC and PAMCO Sign Binding MOU to Complete Feasibility Study to Process Polymetallic Nodules into Battery Metal Feedstocks
- Following successful completion of the pre-feasibility exercise, TMC and PAMCO have entered into a binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) where PAMCO will complete a feasibility study to process 1.3 million tonnes of wet polymetallic nodules (PMN) per year to produce lithium-ion battery and steel making feedstocks as part of the NORI-D Project Zero development
- This MoU is a key element of TMC’s stated capital-light strategy to get into commercial production with low upfront capital costs by leveraging existing production assets which require minimal modification
- PAMCO will undertake a pilot demonstration on a 2,000-tonne PMN sample to confirm the commercial operating parameters and to further de-risk the PAMCO Hachinohe facility to process PMN into nickel-copper-cobalt alloy and manganese silicate
- PAMCO is expected to engineer additional equipment to convert nickel-copper-cobalt alloy into a higher value matte product
- The parties are working towards finalizing definitive processing agreements in Q3 2024
NEW YORK, Nov. 13, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- TMC the metals company Inc. (Nasdaq: TMC) (“TMC” or the “Company”), an explorer of the world’s largest estimated undeveloped source of critical battery metals, today announced that it has signed a binding MOU with Pacific Metals Co Ltd (PAMCO) of Japan, where PAMCO will complete a feasibility study to toll treat 1.3 million tonnes of wet polymetallic nodules per year at its Hachinohe smelting facility expected to start in Q1 2026, consistent with the commencement of NORI’s planned first commercial production from the NORI-D Polymetallic Nodule Project at the end of 2025.
The toll treatment is expected to take place on a dedicated rotary kiln-electric arc furnace (RKEF) processing line and produce two products: nickel-copper-cobalt alloy — an intermediate product used as feedstock to produce Li-ion battery cathodes — and a manganese silicate product used to make silico-manganese alloy, a critical input into steel manufacturing. PAMCO’s Hachinohe facility is located on the coast in northern Japan and is equipped with port and processing infrastructure required to receive and process polymetallic nodules and to ship products to customers.
PAMCO successfully completed a pre-feasibility exercise pursuant to a non-binding MoU signed by the parties in November 2022. Under the new binding MoU:
- PAMCO, with TMC support, expects to complete the feasibility study by Q3, 2024.
- TMC provides PAMCO with the exclusive right to the first 1.3Mtpa of the expected 3Mtpa of wet nodule collection capacity of the company’s first nodule collection system until completion of the feasibility study.
- The parties will enter into good faith negotiations to finalize definitive processing agreements on completion of the feasibility study.
The feasibility study is expected to confirm operating parameters and product specifications for PAMCO’s dedicated production line and define the scope and execution plan for any additional equipment requirements, which are currently expected to be minor. An extended pilot demonstration program utilizing existing kilns and furnaces at PAMCO’s Hachinohe facility is expected to treat a 2,000 tonne sample of polymetallic nodules collected during the successful pilot nodule collector test completed by Allseas in November 2022 on the NORI-D area, with the goal of optimizing the furnace refractory selection and confirm commercial scale operating parameters such as tapping temperatures and dusting rates when treating nodules through the Hachinohe facility. The cost of processing polymetallic nodules will be estimated to inform finalization of the definitive processing agreements.
In parallel, PAMCO is continuing to study the addition of a converting facility to process the intermediate alloy to nickel-copper-cobalt matte, which is an upgraded intermediate battery supply chain feedstock. It is expected that the additional facility would be constructed once commercial processing of polymetallic nodules to alloy has been demonstrated.
Gerard Barron, CEO & Chairman of The Metals Company, said: “We have been impressed with PAMCO’s technical and operating capability and are excited to progress to the next stage of our relationship with a trusted partner. Work to date has confirmed that the Hachinohe plant is well-suited to process nodules with near-zero solid waste, with little modification. We look forward to progressing with PAMCO on the upcoming feasibility study, finalizing the definitive agreements and ultimately processing nodules to provide the metals required for the energy transition. This binding MoU underscores our stated capital-light strategy to get into initial commercial production swiftly and with lower upfront capital by re-using existing onshore production assets, as well as by leveraging the deep operational expertise of our partners Allseas and PAMCO. These partnerships and our relentless focus on the environmental and social impacts of any future operations is how we unlock the enormous battery metal resource held by TMC.”
Masayuki Aoyama, PAMCO President, commented: “We look forward to working further with TMC to enhance the value of the Hachinohe facility by processing a higher value material with a lower environmental impact. We are excited by the prospect of being the first commercial processor of polymetallic nodules and see the opportunity to emerge as supplier of Li–ion battery metals.”
About The Metals Company
The Metals Company is an explorer of lower-impact battery metals from seafloor polymetallic nodules, on a dual mission: (1) supply metals for the global energy transition with the least possible negative impacts on planet and people and (2) trace, recover and recycle the metals we supply to help create a metal commons that can be used in perpetuity. The Company through its subsidiaries holds exploration and commercial rights to three polymetallic nodule contract areas in the Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean regulated by the International Seabed Authority and sponsored by the governments of Nauru, Kiribati and the Kingdom of Tonga. More information is available at www.metals.co.
About Pacific Metals (PAMCO)
Since its establishment in 1949, Pacific Metals Co., Ltd. (PAMCO) has performed through Japan’s post-war reconstruction and many crises to develop new technologies, launch new products, and implement an effective quality control program with a view to satisfying the needs of the customer and becomes Japanese leading ferronickel producer. With ferronickel as its main product, PAMCO produces nickel slag products obtained as by-products in the smelting process.
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Forward Looking Statements
Certain statements made in this press release are not historical facts but are forward-looking statements for purposes of the safe harbor provisions under The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements generally are accompanied by words such as “believe,” “may,” “will,” “estimate,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “expect,” “should,” “would,” “plan,” “predict,” “potential,” “seem,” “seek,” “future,” “outlook” and similar expressions that predict or indicate future events or trends or that are not statements of historical matters, including related to statements regarding the studies to evaluate the processing of polymetallic nodules, the pilot demonstration on a 2,000-tonne nodule sample and any engineering of additional equipment needed for converting nickel-copper-cobalt alloy into an upgraded matte product. These forward-looking statements involve significant risks and uncertainties that could cause the actual results to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements. Most of these factors are outside TMC’s control and are difficult to predict. Factors that may cause such differences include, but are not limited to: TMC’s strategies and future financial performance; the ISA’s ability to timely adopt the final mining regulations and/or willingness to review and/or approve a plan of work for exploitation under the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS); TMC’s ability to obtain exploitation contracts or approved plans of work for exploitation for its areas in the Clarion Clipperton Zone; regulatory uncertainties and the impact of government regulation and political instability on TMC’s resource activities; changes to any of the laws, rules, regulations or policies to which TMC is subject, including the terms of the final mining regulations, if any, adopted by ISA and the potential timing thereof; the impact of extensive and costly environmental requirements on TMC’s operations; environmental liabilities; the impact of polymetallic nodule collection on biodiversity in the Clarion Clipperton Zone and recovery rates of impacted ecosystems; TMC’s ability to develop minerals in sufficient grade or quantities to justify commercial operations; the lack of development of seafloor polymetallic nodule deposit; TMC’s ability to successfully enter into binding agreements with Allseas Group S.A. and other parties in which it is in discussions, if any; uncertainty in the estimates for mineral resource calculations from certain contract areas and for the grade and quality of polymetallic nodule deposits; risks associated with natural hazards; uncertainty with respect to the specialized treatment and processing of polymetallic nodules that the Company may recover; risks associated with collective, development and processing operations, including with respect to the development of onshore processing capabilities and capacity and Allseas Group S.A.’s expected development efforts with respect to the Project Zero offshore system; TMC’s dependence on Allseas Group S.A.; fluctuations in transportation costs; fluctuations in metals prices; testing and manufacturing of equipment; risks associated with TMC’s limited operating history, limited cash resources and need for additional financing; risks associated with TMC’s intellectual property; Low Carbon Royalties’ limited operating history; and other risks and uncertainties, including those under Item 1A “Risk Factors” in TMC’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2022, filed by TMC with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) on March 27, 2023, as updated and/or supplemented by TMC’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 30, 2023, filed with the SEC on August 14, 2023, and in TMC’s other future filings with the SEC, including TMC’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2023, filed with the SEC on November 9, 2023. TMC cautions that the foregoing list of factors is not exclusive. TMC cautions readers not to place undue reliance upon any forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date made. TMC does not undertake or accept any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements to reflect any change in its expectations or any change in events, conditions, or circumstances on which any such statement is based except as required by law.
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