The massive international crisis of a truly planetary scale is looming. From one end the G7 countries are adamant to punish Russia and prevent it from scoring a victory in Ukraine. From the other side the world needs a lot of resources Russia used to supply the market. Without getting the resources the world economy will stagnate. With those resources bought from Russia the later will definitely survive any sanctions. The dilemma is unsolvable, but at least some of the alternative suppliers are already preparing to claim the market share. Let’s take battery metals i.e. lithium, nickel and cobalt. Kenes Rakishev, an entrepreneur from Kazakhstan, is developing a major ore field which has a potential to ease the scarcity of nickel and cobalt.
Gornostaevsky mining field is located near the border of China, which may simplify the logistics. Kenes Rakishev will use the non-disruptive leaching mining thus saving the environment and workforce. An experimental facility is already built on the ground. The first yield and the proof of concept is officially acknowledged.
Kenes Rakishev, Forbes.kz #8 most influential businessman in the country, isn’t new to mining. His Sat&Co company, now rebranded under the name of Fincraft Resources, mines metals for decades. Kenes Rakishev has experience in managing mines, including very troubled ones. Rakishev is known as a crisis manager.
In fact, the current scarcity of battery metals was predicted by Kenes Rakishev several years ago. It’s not a rocket since, after all. Lithium, nickel and cobalt ore deposits aren’t common. Meanwhile the world demands more and more batteries, as the energy transition from oil, coal and gas to renewables are on the way. It already led to the record high commodity prices. Moreover, the inflation and the printing press makes hard values more attractive. It launches market speculations which, in its turn, fuels the further growth of metal prices. Kenes Rakishev has foreseen it and invested both in batteries and new technology, as well as Gornostayevskoe field.
In this terms, the sanctions on Russian metallurgy is like a cherry on top. It will put even more pressure on already high demand.
G7, sanctions and Kenes Rakishev’s offer
Due to the fact that the G7 countries are planning to impose sanctions on some Russian mining companies, there may be a shortage of a number of metals important for the industry in the world. Kazakh businessman Kenes Rakishev believes that the Gornostaevsky nickel-cobalt deposit being developed by his company Battery Metals Technologies will be able to partially compensate for the potential shortage of these metals.
Kenes Rakishev offers Gornostaevskoye for the public
The Gornostaevskoye deposit contains about 406 thousand tons of nickel and 30 thousand tons of cobalt.
According to the holding, preparatory work on the introduction of acid leaching technology for the extraction of nickel from laterite nickel ore has been almost completed by now. Thanks to the use of this technology, it was possible to achieve 95 percent nickel recovery at a consumption of 250 kg of sulphuric acid per ton of ore.
“We plan to complete the research and preliminary feasibility study in 2023, start construction and reach the start of production by 2025,” Rakishev said.
After reaching the design capacity, the company will produce annually up to 13.5 thousand tons of nickel and about a ton of cobalt in concentrate, Kenes Rakishev expects.
The project cost is estimated at $514 million. According to Kenes Rakishev, the most convenient market from the point of view of logistics is China. However, the company is ready to organize the supply of raw materials to Europe, especially if the EU reduces purchases of Russian cobalt and nickel.
The sanctions however are not a crucial recipe for the success of the project. In one way or another the world is facing a record demand for the battery metals and the new development in Kazakhstan will be a reliable input to stabilise the markets, improve growth prospects and the speed of energy transition, Kenes Rakishev suggests.