Selkirk study confirms potential 260,000-tonne nickel production for LionOres Tati

Selkirk study confirms potential 260,000-tonne nickel production for LionOres Tati

Toronto’s LionOre Mining expects to produce 260,000 tonnes of nickel at its 85 percent owned Tati Nickel Mine in Botswana over the life span of the potentially rich Selkirk low-grade disseminated nickel sulphide deposit within its project area.

The Selkirk nickel resource is located 14 kilometres south of Phoenix open pit mine, which forms part of Tati Nickel Mine north of Gaborone.

In a recent statement, LionOre said it is proceeding with a full bankable feasibility study after results of a 2006 Selkirk pre-feasibility study revealed that the deposit is economically viable, and may produce around 20,000 tonnes of payable nickel and a similar amount of copper annually for 13 years.

The study also revealed associated deposits of gold, palladium and platinum by-products. It concluded that open-pit mining and a Dense Media Separation (DMS) operation could commence after the end of the Phoenix mine in 2016, utilizing the existing Phoenix processing infrastructure: the 5mtpa concentrator and the recently commissioned refinery.

The Activox® refinery–a proprietary hydrometallurgical process developed by LionOre to treat a wide variety of metal sulphide concentrates–is expected to increase Tati Nickel production to 22,500 tons from the current 14,000 tons per annum.

The study’s metallurgical investigation confirmed that a 0.24 percent nickel feed grade can be upgraded through the DMS to generate a 0.4 percent mill feed grade, which will produce a four-percent concentrate at a recovery rate of 78%.

LionOre is estimating initial capital costs at US$160 million. Mining would be conducted at a cut-off grade of 0.1 percent with a total reserve of 184.7 million tonnes containing 453.26 kt nickel and 397.98 kt copper.

LionOre said the bankable feasibility study would be completed in the fourth quarter of 2007. It will focus on optimising the concentrate supply from Tati Nickel as a whole. ”We expect to make a final decision on the development of Selkirk in the latter part of 2007”, said Colin Steyn, LionOre’s president and CEO

“This is a positive result for future production at Tati and comes in the wake of achieving our production targets for 2006. Selkirk is, without doubt, one of the largest undeveloped nickel sulphide deposits in Africa, and has the potential to get even bigger with further drilling,” said Steyn.

He added that the feasibility results confirm the possibility of boosting LionOre’s nickel production from Tati by approximately 260,000 tonnes over the life of Selkirk, which would enhance both the project economics and the longevity of the Activox® projects.

LionOre, however, said the bankable study will investigate the best option for processing the Selkirk ore, including alternatives for processing it simultaneously with the ore from the Phoenix mine with options of either transporting the DMS ore for processing through the Phoenix flotation plant or building a flotation plant on-site.

The viability of these options would be affected by ”a decision on the timing of the Selkirk development as well as the ability to process concentrate from Tati Nickel as a whole through the Activox® refinery and other third party treatment options,” LionOre said.

Tati Nickel is 15% owned by the Government of Botswana.


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