Australian nickel miner Western Areas has announced plans to almost double production at its Forrestania project.

The company said it will double capacity at its Cosmic Bay nickel concentrator and start mining at its Spotted Quoll open pit project.

In a separate statement, Western Areas also said it had agreed to purchase BioHeap bacterial leaching technology from Pacific Ore.

Western Areas has been given six months to conduct due diligence on the technology, after which it will have an option to acquire the company’s Australian subsidary.

During this period, Western Areas can assess the global patents and conduct test work on low grade sulphide ores from its Forrestania nickel project, Pacific said.

BioHeap offers the potential to unlock significant value from the large volume of lower grade mineralisation adjacent to the existing and planned mines at Forrestania at a low capital cost, Western Areas managing director Julian Hanna said.

Western Areas will pay $100,000 a month during the option period and would have an option to acquire the asset after three months by committing to pay 2% royalty on the future commercial applications of the technology.