UK-based miner Horizonte Minerals has secured a mining approval permit for its Araguaia nickel project, located south of the Carajás Mining District in Pará, Brazil.
Issued by the Pará State Secretariat for Environment and Sustainability (SEMAS), the permit allows Horizonte to begin mining activities.
Initial works are underway to establish ore stockpiles on the run-of-mine (ROM) pad before the commissioning phase begins.
Horizonte can now mine, stockpile and categorise ore, and optimise feedstock consistency, a process needed for risk mitigation during the commissioning, which is a key step in the mine-to-mill strategy.
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In the next six months, stockpiles will be established with sufficient ore to feed the plant for the subsequent six months.
The Pequizeiro pit is located near the plant site and will be the primary source of ore to Araguaia.
It is expected to supply during the first two years of the project’s mine life and contribute to more than 50% of mine production during the first decade.
Horizonte Minerals CEO Jeremy Martin said: “I am pleased to announce the approval to begin mining activities at Araguaia, another important milestone for Horizonte. The approval allows ore to be mined and stockpiled with the aim of mitigating a key commissioning risk as part of our mine-to-mill strategy ahead of the plant start-up next year.
“The Horizonte team continues to work closely with SEMAS and other local stakeholders, towards delivering long-term sustainable value for all involved in this new tier one nickel project.”
The area where the Araguaia nickel project is located has well-developed infrastructure such as roads, rail and hydroelectric power.
The open-pit nickel laterite mining operation at the mine will deliver ore from several pits to a central rotary kiln electric furnace metallurgical processing facility. This process will extract ferronickel (FeNi) from the ore.
After the initial ramp-up, the processing facility is expected to reach a capacity of around 900,000tpa of dry ore feed. It would produce 52,000tpa of FeNi, which will, in turn, contain nearly 14,500tpa of nickel.
The mine is anticipated to have a life of 28 years. It has been designed to generate after-tax cash flows of about $1.6bn, with an internal rate of return (IRR) of more than 20% for an initial investment of $443m.