JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The ongoing feasibility study for Aim- and TSX-listed Horizonte Minerals’ Brazil-based Araguaia project – the country’s next ferro-nickel mine – is progressing on schedule and is now over 60% complete.
According to Horizonte CEO Jeremy Martin, the feasibility study is due for completion by year end, with targeted publishing in early 2018.
"There has been a steady increase in the nickel price over the last eight weeks, with prices now over $11 000. This, aligned with our project milestones over the next 12 months should see increased interest in the company as we advance the project through to the construction stage," he said.
In terms of process design and engineering, Brazil-focused nickel developer Horizonte noted that major equipment packages have been issued to the market, enabling the company to assemble capital cost estimates.
The company also highlighted that the power line route from the national grid to the plant substation has been finalised and that site layout work, as well as a three-dimensional model of the site, has been substantially complete.
Further, Horizonte has concluded the organisational structure of the future nickel operation.
The mine planning and design of Araguaia is also at an advanced stage of completion, with geotechnical sampling and testwork completed to support engineering design in the process plant areas and appropriate pit design.
In terms of its social and environmental obligations, Horizonte has finalised environmental control plans for the installation licence, and is in a position to submit all documentation to the State Environmental Agency in the current quarter.
"The next major milestone and de-risking step for the project will be the award of the installation licence, which allows construction to start,” noted Martin, who expects the licence to be awarded in the first quarter of 2018.
Further, the company’s sustainability team is progressing towards the water pipeline and energy transmission line installation licences.
The Araguaia nickel project, which is 100% owned by Horizonte, is located on the eastern margin of the State of Pará, north-eastern Brazil, to the north of the town of Conceição do Araguaia, south of the main Carajás mining district.
The project has good regional infrastructure, including a network of federal highways and roads, with access to low-tariff hydroelectric power. The Carajás mining district, situated about 200 km north-west of Araguaia, is host to a number of major iron and copper mines operated by diversified mining major Vale.
The prefeasibility study, released in October 2016, considers openpit mining for the exploitation of nickel laterite to establish the production of run-of-mine from eight openpits to supply a targeted 0.9-million tonnes a year of ore to a processing and smelter facility.
This facility will use the proven rotary kiln electro-furnace process, with the product being sold free on board at the selected port of export.
A base case of 0.9-million tonnes a year of production throughput was selected because of the Horizonte’s objective to minimise the capital expenditure and overall capital intensity, and to optimise overall cash flow, payback and the economics of the project.