Oxair and Cobalt Blue combine for future of energy storage

Oxair Gas Systems Pty Ltd

Friday, 20 October, 2023

Oxair and Cobalt Blue combine for future of energy storage

Oxair, a global specialist in gas systems, has supplied its onsite oxygen and nitrogen generators to a cobalt mining operation at Broken Hill in NSW. The standalone technology is designed to provide a constant supply of pure oxygen and nitrogen for the mining operation.

Cobalt Blue knows sustainable energy will lead to a decarbonised future, and the switch is creating massive demand for batteries and for cobalt. The mineral is critical to battery chemistry and is the reason why the Broken Hill Cobalt Project is projected to be scaled up with the aim of producing enough cobalt to power 5 million EVs.

The nitrogen generator is used in the project’s kiln. Pyrite concentrate is thermally decomposed in the kiln, during which sulfur is a released in a gaseous state, as a by-product of the process. An inert environment is vital for this process, and to achieve this, nitrogen is required at 99.5% purity. This can be a dangerous process as oxygen ingress can lead to the formation of sulfur dioxide, which is a toxic gas.

Oxygen is essential for the chemical reaction to leach cobalt from the pyrrhotite into solution. The Oxair oxygen generator is used to supply oxygen at pressure to the oxidation leach circuit.

Adam Randall, Broken Hill Cobalt Project, Demonstration Plant Manager, explained: “Investing in world-class equipment is vital to achieving both safety and sustainability goals — something which is not lost on Cobalt Blue. Broken Hill Cobalt Project builds on 130 years of mining history and Oxair’s technology will help us to achieve commercial-scale mining and processing operations in the near future. Together we are helping to create a renewable energy future and a community for our miners and their families here, and we’d thoroughly recommend Oxair’s systems for other mining operations.”

Oxair’s David Cheeseman added: “Battery power is undoubtedly the future across many industry sectors, but this can’t be achieved without vital components like cobalt. Cobalt Blue is a unique endeavour, and we are honoured that our systems are contributing to its current productivity — and to its ambitious targets to become one of the leading cobalt mines in the world. We very much look forward to helping Cobalt Blue shape the future of battery technology.”

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