JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – London- and Johannesburg-listed African Eagle Resources said on Monday it was pursuing an “aggressive” development timeline for its flagship Dutwa nickel project, in Tanzania, which was currently expected to cost $600-million to develop.
The company, which secured a 10% International Finance Corporation equity investment last month, was moving ahead with the project’s bankable feasibility study and an environmental and social impact assessment, both of which were due for completion by the end of 2012.
The proposed mine’s bulk ore sampling and resource upgrades were on track for completion by the second quarter of 2012, while the metallurgical pilot test work would be complete by the third quarter, said CEO Trevor Moss.
Further, the project’s infrastructure engineering, which started in the fourth quarter of 2011, and process engineering, which started in the first quarter of 2012, were due to be complete by mid-2014.
African Eagle was already in early debt package structure discussions with a number of banks and aimed to select the project’s finance institutions by the end of 2012. Construction was set to start mid-2013.
“This is an aggressive project timeline, but we want to push this project forward,” said Moss.
The company was currently budgeting for operational expenditure of $3.50/lb – African Eagle attributed the competitive cost of extraction to the low iron percentage in the resource, as well as the prospect’s relatively shallow orebody.
Initially, the mine, which would have a 20-year life, would produce about three-million tons of ore a year. Production could be ramped up further should it prove viable to do so.
The nickel deposit, which comprises the Wamangola and Ngasamo Hill, has a Joint Ore Reserves Committee-compliant resource of 98.6-million tons, at a grade of 0.96% nickel.