Crawford nickel project gains remarkable momentum, says Selby

13th October 2023 By: Mariaan Webb - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

A mere four years ago, the Crawford project boasted only five drill holes. Fast forward to today, and this nickel sulphide project, in Ontario, stands as a “world-class” project with “tremendous momentum”, says Canada Nickel Company CEO Mark Selby.

With the announcement of the results from a bankable feasibility study (BFS) for Crawford, he highlights that a production decision for what will be a large-scale producer of critical minerals is less than two years away.

“Crawford is poised to be a leader in the energy transition through the large-scale production of critical minerals, including nickel and cobalt, and is expected to become the sole North American producer of chromium, while also supporting Canada’s climate objectives through industrial-scale carbon capture and storage,” says Selby.

On average, Crawford will produce 83-million pounds (38 000 t) of nickel a year over a 41-year life, with production of 48 000 t/y nickel, 8 000 t/y of cobalt, 13 000 oz/y of palladium and platinum, 1.6-million tonnes a year of iron and 76 000 t/y of chrome over its 27-year peak period.

The BFS calculated net life-of-mine C1 cash costs of $0.39/lb nickel, placing Crawford in the first quartile of the cost curve. The net all-in sustaining costs is $1.21/lb nickel.

On average, Crawford is projected to earn revenue of $1-billion a year and deliver free cashflow of $546-million.

The BFS pegged capital costs at $1.9-billion for the initial phase, which will have a throughput of 60 000 t/y. The second phase, planned for commissioning during the fourth year, will double mill throughput to 120 000 t/d at a cost of $1.6-billion.

The study delivered a $2.5-billion after-tax net present value and an internal rate of return of 17.1%.

The BFS economics represents an improvement from that of the preliminary economic assessment.

"This BFS is a significant milestone for Crawford and a major step forward in demonstrating the value of our Timmins nickel district and its potential to anchor a Zero Carbon Industrial Cluster in the Timmins-Cochrane region,” says Selby.

Canada Nickel’s next milestones will be to obtain permits, to develop a financing package and to move towards a production decision by mid-2025, with a goal of first production by the end of 2027.

Crawford has proven and probable reserves of 3.8-million tonnes contained nickel from 1.7-billion tonnes ore grading 0.22% nickel, making it the world's second-largest nickel reserve.

Reserves are hosted in a measured and indicated resource, which increased by 74% compared with the 2022 resource estimate, to 6-million tonnes. With additional inferred mineral resources of 3.7-million tonnes contained nickel, Crawford is the world's second-largest nickel resource.

Once in production, Crawford is also expected to become one of Canada's biggest carbon storage facilities and be a net negative contributor of carbon dioxide over the project life.