Horizonte Minerals has secured the necessary construction licence (LI) from the Brazilian Pará State Environmental Agency (SEMAS) to develop its wholly-owned Araguaia Ferronickel Project in Brazil.

With the award of the LI, Horizonte is now able to begin work on the Araguaia rotary kiln electric furnace (RKEF) processing plant and associated infrastructure over a period of 31 months.

Following an initial ramp-up period, the plant is expected to reach full capacity of around 900,000t of dry ore feed annually.

Horizonte Minerals chief executive Jeremy Martin said: “Subject to funding, the company is now in a position to commence construction with the necessary environmental permits approved, including water abstraction permits issued in 2018 together with the newly issued LI.

“The LI award follows on closely from the completion of the FS [feasibility study], demonstrating that Araguaia is a Tier 1 asset with the potential to be a low-cost supplier of nickel in the form of high-grade ferronickel to the stainless-steel industry.”

Araguaia is expected to generate cash flows after taxation of $1.6bn over the initial mine life of 28 years.

The company concluded the FS on the project in October last year after receiving the Preliminary Environmental Licence in 2016.

Horizonte worked with Environmental Resource Management, together with Integratio Mediação Social e Sustentabilidade and DBO Environmental Engineering for the FS environmental and social work streams and the project permitting work for the LI.

“The company is now in a position to commence construction with the necessary environmental permits approved.”

The company and the groups conducted several phases of work in 2017 and 2018 including environmental control plans; inventories of fauna and flora; air dispersion modelling; hydrogeological modelling and water balance.

Araguaia will generate about 500 direct and indirect jobs in the south-eastern rural area of Pará State. At the peak, construction workforce is expected to reach more than 1,000.

The project consists of an open pit nickel laterite mining operation with reserves of 119 million tonnes. The project is scheduled to mine 27.5 million tonnes to produced 52,000 tonnes of ferronickel by 2047.