PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Nova nickel/copper/cobalt mine, in Western Australia, is expected to reach commercial production by the end of June, ASX-listed Independence Group said on Monday.
Since commissioning started in October last year, the processing plant has been constrained by ore production from the underground operation, and as such, has operated on a campaign basis, which has allowed the process design and installed equipment to be tested, but has not provided the opportunity for the process to be optimised, Independence reported.
The company pointed out that with the start of mining of the first of the larger stopes from the Nova underground mine, the processing plant has been transitioned to continuous operations.
Underground ore production is expected to hit nameplate capacity of 1.5-million tonnes a year in the September quarter of this year.
Independence previously warned of the three-month delay to the underground operation meeting its nameplate target, as underground development rates had been lower than planned.
Meanwhile, first copper and nickel concentrate shipments were expected to take place this week, with the miner saying that some 6 700 t of nickel concentrate and 5 600 t of copper concentrate will be loaded for offshore shipment from the Esperance port.
Independence currently has two nickel concentrate offtake agreements in place, one of which is with diversified miner Glencore, and the other with the Nickel West division of major BHP. A copper concentrate agreement was also in place with offtake partner Trafigura, where concentrate will be shipped overseas.
The Nova project is expected to produce some 3 400 t of nickel and 1 500 t of copper during the 2017 financial year, which is in line with the mine plan.