JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – TSX-listed RNC Minerals has said it plans to double nickel production from its Beta Hunt mine, with production of four-million pounds of contained nickel forecast for 2018.
RNC Minerals is ramping up gold production at the Beta Hunt mine in Western Australia’s Kambalda mining district, with gold production expected to reach an annualised rate of 70 000 oz/y by the end of 2017.
President and CEO Mark Selby said on Monday that the mine provided good optionality from both gold and nickel production.
“With the much larger scale in gold production, versus a standalone nickel mine, nickel production can be added at much lower cost compared to many other nickel producers in Western Australia," he said.
The company believed sufficient development would be completed by early 2018 to allow mining access to nickel resources in the 1820-1825 Beta area of the mine.
“As with other nickel deposits in the mine, there is the potential for bonanza grade gold mineralisation to occur in close proximity to ultramafic/basalt contact, and for gold mineralisation extending below the contact.”
Meanwhile, Selby also said that there was substantial growth potential at the Dumont project, in Quebec, in which RNC has a 50% stake through the Wateron joint venture (JV).
"We believe there is significant potential to benefit from a strong nickel market outlook. With substantial interest in the expected explosive growth in nickel and cobalt demand for the electric vehicle market over the coming decade, and nickel prices approaching the $12 000/t to $13 000/t (or $5.50/lb to $6/lb) level, RNC believes is necessary to advance Dumont.”
Selby added that the JV had been approached by a number of potential project financers and offtake partners and that negotiations had resumed.
Dumont is the fifth largest nickel sulphide discovery ever and one of the largest cobalt reserves outside Africa. It is one of the few nickel projects that can potentially deliver nickel and cobalt to market by 2020 to meet the growing needs of the electric vehicle market.
Dumont’s proven and probable reserves consist of 1.18-billion tonnes of ore containing 3.15-million tonnes of nickel (6.9-billion pounds) and 126 000 t (278-million pounds) of cobalt.
The JV is proposing a large scale, long life nickel and cobalt operation, producing 41 000 t/y of nickel and 2 000 t/y of cobalt for 33 years.