PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Nickel miner Western Areas has commissioned its mill recovery enhancement project (MREP) and is now producing premium high-grade nickel sulphides at Forrestania, in Western Australia.
The A$17.5-million MREP was completed on time and within budget, Western Areas MD Dan Lougher said on Monday.
“Western Areas now has a new high-grade nickel sulphide product set to attract premium pricing above its existing concentrate terms.
“Our focus now turns to post commissioning ramp-up to nameplate capacity and completing filtration and bagging facility works in order to sell the high-grade product under a separate offtake agreement.”
Lougher noted that there was significant interest in the new product, including from parties related to the electric vehicle sector. The company has hosted a number of site visits in recent months and has received indicative offtake terms.
“We will soon commence dispatching samples to a select group of potential customers as part of securing a new offtake agreement,” he added.
The MREP product will initially be blended with existing nickel concentrate product for sale.
Western Areas said that the construction of a dedicated filtration and bagging facility would start this quarter, at a cost of A$3-million, and was scheduled for completion by the third quarter.
“Importantly, we are also advancing test and study work on the New Morning heap leach project, using our globally patented BioHeap process. The crude nickel sulphate solution produced from the heap leach can be processed at the back end of the MREP plant, which has in-built capacity for around 4 000 t of contained nickel,” Lougher said.
“We are now working through the required environmental approvals and studies, with a goal for New Morning to be an operational mine in the coming years.”
The company is also looking to advance other potential BioHeap-related opportunities at the Forrestania and Cosmos operations.