Metallica moves to next phase of NQ nickel project

Metallica moves to next phase of NQ nickel project

Thursday, August 31st 2006

EXPLORER Metallica Minerals says it is moving to a pre-feasibility study of the company’s North Queensland nickel and cobalt (NORNICO) project.

Metallica Minerals managing director Andrew Gillies said yesterday the company was encouraged by the findings of a scoping study and had initiated a pre-feasibility study which was expected to be completed within six months.

The study will assess resources, metallurgy, processing options and selection, site selection, infrastructure, landowner and community relations, environmental impact and capital and operating costs.

“The scoping study report indicates that the development of a relatively simple and lower cost laterite heap leaching process and a treatment plant to produce a nickel hydroxide precipitate would be technically robust,” Mr Gillies said.

“During the pre-feasibility phase, Metallica will be seeking to increase and upgrade its resource base to allow a project life of around 20 years as well as provide higher nickel grades in the early years of operation to maximise margins early and enhance the project economics.”

The company is proposing to develop a heap leach operation adjacent to its Bell Creek nickel deposits about 30km south of Mount Garnet and believes it may have the makings of a $100 million a year operation.

It is hoped the operation will produce a mixed nickel-cobalt hydroxide precipitate product which will be suitable as feedstock to BHP Billiton’s Yabulu nickel refinery near Townsville.

Metallurgist Bob Martin has been appointed as Metallica’s general manager project developments with responsibility for NORNICO’s feasibility.

Mr Gillies said it was Metallica Minerals’ intention to progress to a pre-feasibility study immediately with a base case timetable targeting nickel-cobalt mixed hydroxide product (MHP) concentrate production in 2009.

“It is the company’s vision to build a highly profitable and long-life heap leach nickel cobalt operation, producing nickel (initially as MHP) at a rate of around 10,000 tonnes per annum for a project life of around 20 years,” he said.

The NORNICO project includes more than 2000sq km of contiguous tenements covering prospective and under explored ground in the Greenvale nickel province.

The project includes several drilled nickel-cobalt laterite deposits (Bell Creek, Minnamoolka, and Kokomo) and one scandium deposit.

The company says there is also potential for additional nickel-cobalt laterite deposits as well as nickel-cobalt-platinum group elements-sulphides, base metals and gold mineralisation.

© The North Queensland Newspaper Company Pty Ltd

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