Carbon storage potential at Tamarack Mine to be explored by DOE and Rio Tinto
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $2.2 million of funding to a Rio Tinto-led team to explore carbon storage potential at the Tamarack nickel joint venture in central Minnesota.
Rio Tinto has assembled a team of climate innovation and research leaders to explore new approaches in carbon mineralization technology as a way to safely and permanently store carbon as rock. Rio Tinto will contribute $4 million in funding for the three-year project, in addition to the funding from the DOE’s ARPA-E Innovation Challenge.
Earlier this year Talon Metals entered an agreement to supply Tesla Inc. with nickel from the Tamarack Project in Aitken County, MN.
“This agreement is the start of an innovative partnership between Tesla and Talon for the responsible production of battery materials directly from the mine to the battery cathode. Talon is committed to meeting the highest standards of responsible production that is fully traceable and that has the lowest embedded CO2 footprint in the industry. Talon is excited to support Tesla’s mission to accelerate the transition to renewable energy,” said Henri van Rooyen, CEO of Talon.
Carbon mineralization uses natural chemical reactions to convert captured carbon dioxide (CO2) into rock and store it underground. It has the potential to be an important technology in meeting global climate goals and is now being used at large scale by the world’s leading carbon mineralization company Carbfix in Iceland.
Rio Tinto’s technical experts will work with partners including the DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), which has demonstrated carbon mineralization technology in Washington state; Columbia University; Carbfix and Advantek Waste Management Services. Talon Metals, the majority owner and operator of the Tamarack Nickel Project and Rio Tinto’s joint venture partner, is contributing ore body knowledge and land access for scientific field work.
Rio Tinto Chief Scientist Dr Nigel Steward said, “Our aim is to deliver carbon storage solutions that can help to meet climate targets by reducing and offsetting emissions from our operations and in other industries, and to explore the emerging commercial opportunities carbon storage may offer at Rio Tinto sites around the world. We will be working with leading researchers and innovators to prove the carbon storage potential of the Tamarack site and develop mineralization solutions that can be used not just here but at other similar locations.”
PNNL CO2 subsurface sequestration expert Todd Schaef said, “This work will leverage the knowledge gained from PNNL’s Wallula Basalt Carbon Storage Pilot Project, the only supercritical CO2 injection in basalt demonstration in the world. We will be developing forward-looking carbon storage strategies with Rio Tinto and the broader team. PNNL stewards a suite of capabilities that allow us to look at real-time CO2 interactions with rocks under extreme conditions. We are proud to bring interdisciplinary expertise with computational scientists, geochemists, and engineers who have been researching the subsurface mineralisation of CO2 for decades.”
Talon Metals CEO Henri van Rooyen said “Rio Tinto has assembled a uniquely qualified team of scientists and innovators to explore new approaches to harness carbon mineralisation as a way to safely and permanently store carbon sourced from hard-to-abate industries and carbon removed from the atmosphere.
Tamarack is a nickel, copper and cobalt project located in central Minnesota that is currently progressing towards feasibility studies. The project is managed by Rio Tinto’s joint venture partner Talon Metals, which holds a 51 percent share and has a right to earn-in to acquire up to 60 percent.