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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Feasibility and sensitivity analysis of integrating mining and mineral carbonation : a case study of the Turnagain nickel project Hindle, Sarah Robin


Proposed carbon reduction measures such as cap-and-trade appear poised to have a significant impact on the financial feasibility of mining operations as point-source emitters of carbon dioxide (CO₂). It is therefore necessary to proactively assess the ways in which these effects may be mitigated. Carbon sequestration through mineral carbonation is well suited for integration into mining operations of suitable geology for its ability to make use of waste rock to trap and store CO₂ and offset carbon emissions. The Turnagain Nickel site, a low-grade high-tonnage Ni-sulphide deposit located in Northern BC, contains an abundance of Mg-silicate minerals in its waste rock that have significant potential for use in mineral carbonation. This has the potential to produce an additional revenue stream through the generation and sale of carbon credits in the presence of a mandatory cap-and-trade scheme in North America. Results of financial modeling have yielded a net present value (NPV) at an 8% discount rate of $131.5 million for the integration of mineral carbonation into proposed mining operations at Turnagain, suggesting that the project may be viable from a financial standpoint. Sensitivity analysis has also demonstrated that the parameter with the greatest influence on project NPV is the CO₂ avoidance ratio. This ratio, which takes into consideration the amount of CO₂ released in the mineral carbonation process to determine the net amount of CO₂ avoided, is critical in order to maximize the amount of carbon credits available for sale in a cap-and-trade environment.

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