Mincor Resources in surprise Kambalda find as first ore mined after restart

Re-emergent nickel miner Mincor Resources says it has mined first ore at its restarted Kambalda nickel operations and found additional high-grade tonnes in the process (reports The West Australian).
16th December 2021

The David Southam-led company said on Wednesday it had extracted first ore from its northern operations at Kambalda, which would be stockpiled ahead of its delivery to BHP Nickel West’s Kambalda nickel concentrator next year.

However, Mincor also reported high-grade ore encountered in a development heading about 36m before its main target zone on the 485 level at the Durkin North mine.

It said the ore, which had an estimated average grade of 3.8 per cent nickel and up to 11.5 per cent in some areas, potentially represented a new high-grade surface outside of its existing mine plan.

Mincor said it believed the new discovery may be linked to the historic Otter Juan ore body, highlighting the opportunity to identify additional nickel in previously unmined areas at Kambalda.

The company also revealed it had hit development ore ahead of schedule in the target zone at the 510 level access at Durkin North.

Mr Southam said first ore from Mincor’s northern operations marked an historic step in the company’s journey towards the resumption of nickel production in the first half of next year.

“With the nickel price currently well above the assumed price in the definitive feasibility study and the outlook for the entire nickel sector remaining extremely strong over the next few years, this is a fantastic time for us to be resuming production in one of the world’s greatest nickel provinces,” he said.

Mincor shuttered its Kambalda nickel operations in 2016 after a sustained downturn in prices for the steel-hardening commodity.

However, the restart of the operation, along with the new Cassini mine near Widgiemooltha, marks the beginning of a new era for Mincor, with its ore set to be used as a battery ingredient in the electric vehicle revolution.

The company is eyeing first nickel production in the second half of next year when Nickel West begins taking its ore under an offtake agreement for processing.

It follows BHP’s announcement in July that it had struck an agreement with US electric car pioneer Tesla to supply nickel sulphate for use in lithium-ion batteries.

Mincor, which has Andrew Forrest’s Wyloo Metals and IGO on its share register at 15 per cent and 8 per cent respectively, could also be part of a long-touted consolidation of WA’s nickel sector.

Progress on takeover talks between IGO and another WA nickel miner Western Areas were first revealed in August but progress has been slow.

Mr Forrest looms as a potential player in the merger, having recently increased his stake in Western Areas to more than 6 per cent.

The boss of Mr Forrest’s Wyloo Metals, Luca Giacovazzi, revealed to The West Australian on Monday the company is setting itself for a consolidation of the WA nickel sector that could rival BHP’s dominant position.

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