Western Areas finishes strong

23rd July 2021 By: Esmarie Iannucci - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

PERTH (miningweekly.com) - Nickel miner Western Areas has reported a strong June quarter, with production and sales volumes increasing.

Total nickel mined during the three months to June rose to 4 911 t, up from the 4 236 t produced in the March quarter, while total nickel in concentrate increased from 4 267 t to 4 622 t in the same period.

Nickel sales for the quarter increased from 3 962 t to 4 147 t.

“Our Forrestania operations have had their best quarter on both production and costs for the year, and delivered within updated guidance after overcoming some operational difficulties earlier in the financial year,” said Western Areas MD Dan Lougher.

Market guidance for the full year had placed nickel production at between 16 000 t and 17 000 t, however, Western Areas noted that full year production had reached 16 180 t, while unit cash cost guidance had been set at between A$3.75/lb and A$4.25/lb, but was reported at A$4.23/lb at the end of the quarter.

“As Odysseus increasingly takes the lead in Western Areas, we have several projects underway to ensure Forrestania remains a strong contributor to the company in the years ahead, as mining at Flying Fox winds down. We’ve shown this with the commissioning of the demonstration scale heap leach pad, as well as ongoing study work for an underground mine at New Morning,” said Lougher.

“At Odysseus, our new long life mine continues to advance towards production of first ore in this September quarter, which will mark a very significant milestone in its expected 10 plus year mine life. Odysseus remains one of the few long dated supplies of nickel sulphide to enter the market in the coming years, as the electric vehicle (EV) market continues to drive nickel demand for delivery into the EV battery supply chain.”

A previously completed definitive feasibility study estimated that the Cosmos Odysseus project would produce on average 13 000 t/y of nickel-in-concentrate over an initial ten-year mine life, based on an ore reserve of 8.1-million tonnes, grading 2% nickel for 164 000 t of nickel.