Mirabela Mineração do Brasil (MMB) has terminated the employment of around 220 employees and 180 contractors at the Santa Rita mine in Brazil due to low nickel prices.

According to MMB, the reduction forms part of its decision to decrease production output at the mine in a bid to cut operating costs.

The company is planning to implement the lower production model (LPM), which is set to begin this month.

"The company is planning to implement the lower production model, which is set to begin this month.

MMB will implement the LPM over a 15-month period from this month up to December 2016, which is expected to facilitate a 33% reduction in existing nickel in concentrate production output from the existing 18,000t to 12,000t a year.

Once the LPM is in place, production guidance is set to change from 16,500t-18,000t to around 14,500t-16,000t of nickel contained in concentrate for 2015.

The Santa Rita deposit, which was acquired by Mirabela in 2004, comprises a simple, low-cost, open-pit drill and blast, load and haul mining operation.

The expected remaining mine life of Santa Rita is around 14 years, based on the existing ore reserves estimate.

Located at proximity to key infrastructure, including power, water and transport, the operation is 260km south-west of Salvador, the capital of Bahia in Brazil.

After acquiring the deposit, Mirabela completed commissioning of the operation in October 2009 and began nickel concentrate production in November 2009.