Mirabela says Santa Rita to reach full capacity in 2012

26th October 2010 By: Esmarie Iannucci - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

PERTH (miningweekly.com) – ASX- and TSX-listed Mirabela Nickel on Tuesday reported that the ramp-up of its Santa Rita project, in Brazil, is expected to reach its full capacity by 2012.

The mine would produce between 23 000 t/y and 25 000 t/y of contained nickel in concentrate when at full production.

The completion of the openpit prestrip and the expansion of the processing plant is planned for early 2011, Mirabela said on Tuesday, when it released its third-quarter production results.

The company produced 2 405 t of nickel in concentrate in the quarter ended September, compared with the 2 304 t produced in the previous quarter.

However, sales of 2 359 t for the quarter was lower than the previous quarter’s 2 505 t.

During the third quarter, a total of 849 000 t of ore was mined at an average nickel grade of 0,55%. Mining in the North Pit moved through a major fault structure during August and September, and this resulted in higher-than-average levels of fine, chloritic altered material being mined.

The processing plant’s performance was affected by this material and restricted by planned, major plant shutdown during August. The shutdown was completed on time and in budget.

Mirabela reported that during the quarter, a total of 942 000 t of ore was milled at an average recovery of 49% for the quarter, with plant throughput improving to 82%.

Since some additional changes to the flotation and grinding regimes, in response to the higher-than-average levels of fine, chloritic altered material, recoveries increased to an average above 55% from the middle of September.

The miner said that total production to date had reached 6 700 t of nickel in concentrate, while full-year production guidance was currently tracking in the range between 9 500 t and 10 00 t.

The final quarter of 2010 is expected to be strong, with improved processing plant throughput, improved plant recoveries, and improved mining rates.