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MGX Minerals to proceed with hydrogen gasification and battery metals extraction from petroleum coke

Canada-based MGX Minerals Inc. will proceed with its previously announced partnership with Highbury Energy Inc. to develop a detailed thermochemical gasification process to extract metals such as nickel, vanadium, cobalt and hydrogen from petroleum coke (petcoke).

Petcoke samples were obtained from Alberta oil sands (Sample #1) and refinery (Sample #2) sales stockpiles of available petcoke. Samples were analyzed by Acme Labs of Vancouver, British Columbia using standard ICP analyses. Results were as follows:

Sample Vanadium (V) ppm Cobalt (Co) ppm Nickel (Ni) ppm
Sample Nº 1 421 4.8 76.8
Sample Nº 2 458 1.3 53.4

Further analysis of concentrate post-gasification ash samples is now underway with ash amounting to 3% of oil sands petcoke by weight and less than 1% of the refinery petcoke sample. MGX expects that the concentrations of metals will directly correspond with the reduction in material, approximately 30x and over 100x, respectively. Analyses of the ash concentrate is expected shortly.

A Phase II study is currently being completed by Highbury and will include analyses of potential site locations, inclusion of pilot scale gasification, advanced metals extraction process design and initial plant design parameters.

Background. Petcoke is a carbon material by-product of the oil and gas industry that forms during the oil refining process. As refineries have become more efficient at processing extra heavy crude oils (bitumen) over the last two decades, output of Petcoke globally has risen significantly. Because Petcoke originates from heavier petroleum fractions, its denser impurities such as metals and sulfur compounds are concentrate in it.

The majority of Canadian Petcoke output occurs in close proximity to oil sand producing regions, where bitumen is upgraded into synthetic crude oil. Specifically, the Province of Alberta is known to host vast stockpiles of petcoke. According to the Alberta Energy Regulator, petcoke inventories are estimated to have reached 106 million tonnes in 2016.

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