INCO LIMITED has undertaken a review of its 85%-owned Goro nickel-cobalt project in New Caledonia. Recent estimates have boosted the original US$1.45-billion price tag upwards by 30-45%. In light of that, Inco is going to reassess all aspects of the project, especially how to control capital costs.
Goro is believed to be the best undeveloped laterite nickel orebody in the world. Proven and probable reserves total 54 million tonnes averaging 1.53% Ni and 0.12% Co. Inco built a US$50-million pilot plant in 1999 to test its unique pressure acid leach technology. Plans for a commercial development, which would produce 55,000 tonnes of nickel and 4,500 tonnes of cobalt annually, were announced in 2001. Commercial production is scheduled to begin by the end of 2004.
The review will probably take until mid-2003 to complete. It will evaluate what work will continue or be postponed both on site and off. However, permitting and local approvals will be completed. Changes to the project and the start-up date will likely be made to reduce capital costs. To the end of November 2002, Inco estimates that it had spent about US$300 million at Goro, and a further US$300-350 million are committed for equipment and services under existing contracts.
A detailed look at the Goro project can be found at www.CanadianMiningJournal.com. Click on "Index & Archives" and select the April/May 2002 issue.