PERTH (miningweekly.com) – ASX-listed Nickel Industries has produced its first nickel pig iron (NPI) from its 70%-owned Oracle nickel project, at the Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park.
The company in October reported the electrification and ignition of Oracle’s first rotary kiln electric furnace (RKEF) lines, and a maiden NPI tap was completed this week, well ahead of the scheduled delivery date of February 24.
The three other RKEF lines will be progressively commissioned over the coming months, with all four RKEF lines anticipated to have started operations by the end of the first quarter of 2023. Oracle Nickel has a nameplate capacity of 36 000 t/y of nickel and similar to the Angel nickel project is expected to operate in excess of 130% of nameplate capacity once fully ramped up.
Nickel Industries told shareholders on Tuesday that the ramp-up of the Oracle project would be transformative for the company’s existing operations, increasing yearly attributable nickel metal nameplate capacity from 52 800 t/y to 78 000 t/y with actual attributable production levels expected to exceed 100 000 t/y based on historical levels of outperformance above nameplate capacity.
Oracle Nickel’s commissioning schedule is expected to replicate that of Angel nickel, with each of the project’s four RKEF lines anticipated to operate below nameplate capacity until the completion and commissioning of the project’s designated power plant in early 2023. Once the project’s RKEF lines are operating at full capacity and the Oracle nickel power plant has been commissioned, the project is expected to achieve an approximate 20% saving on its power costs, an outcome now being achieved at Angel nickel.
“Oracle’s maiden NPI production represents yet another momentous milestone in our company’s rapid evolution into a globally significant, diversified nickel producer. Having commissioned and successfully ramped up our Angel project, which is now operating in the first quartile for costs and significantly lower than our Hengjaya and Ranger nickel lines, the early introduction of Oracle to our production profile once again confirms Tsingshan’s unrivalled project execution credentials and will deliver us significant additional low-cost nickel units,” said Nickel Industries MD Justin Werner.
“As Oracle’s remaining lines progressively come online and ramp up in the months ahead, we look forward to seeing a steady increase in our monthly production rates that will in time see Nickel Industries with annual attributable production in excess of 100 000 t, comfortably establishing us as a global top-10 nickel producer.
“With our developments at Hengjaya, we are unique among global listed nickel producers given our ability to produce nickel products which have pricing exposure to both the Class 1 and Class 2 nickel markets, thereby providing significant diversification and importantly exposure to the electric vehicle battery supply chain.”