The Brazilian government has approved the Araguaia nickel project as a strategic minerals project, dual-listed Horizonte Minerals reported on Monday.
The approval will ensure that the various government agencies engaged in the construction and operation of the mine treat Araguaia as a priority.
"The selection of the Araguaia nickel project as a strategic minerals project further demonstrates the global importance of nickel as a critical metal of the future, as well as the project's strategic importance to Brazil.
“We recognise the positive steps the Brazilian government are taking to help expedite these strategically important projects and we look forward to working closely with them as we advance Araguaia towards production,” Horizonte CEO Jeremy Martin said in a statement.
The strategic minerals policy is aimed at prioritising the development of mineral projects that are deemed strategic to Brazil's growth and forms part of the Investment Partnership Programme (PPI - Programa de Parcerias de Investimento), a government body dedicated to expanding and accelerating the implementation of projects with the participation of the private sector in Brazil.
Projects are selected on a case-by-case basis by the Inter-Ministerial Committee, formed by representatives from PPI, as well as other governmental agencies such as the Ministry of Mines and Energy; the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations; the Institutional Security Office and the Special Secretariat for Strategic Affairs of the Presidency.
Araguaia's selection as a strategic project under the policy will facilitate the necessary interaction amongst different regulatory entities to minimise risks and help Horizonte continue its progress towards production, for the benefit of all stakeholders.
The Araguaia project is fully funded. In an initial production phase, about 900 000 t/y of ore will be treated in a rotary kiln electric furnace (RKEF) to produce about 14 500 t/y of nickel contained in 52 000 t/y of ferronickel. The feasibility study includes an option to double production to 29 000 t/y of contained nickel by the addition of a second RKEF in the third year of the project.