WESTERN AUSTRALIA — Vancouver's First Quantum Minerals is making its initial foray into nickel production with the purchase of the Ravensthorpe operation from BHP Billiton for US$340 million. The Ravensthorpe open pit and hydrometallurgical plant are located 550 km southeast of Perth. The operation produces an intermediate nickel-cobalt hydroxide product.
First Quantum expects the average annual production of nickel metal will be approximately 39,000 tonnes for the first five years after recommencement of operations and an average annual production of 28,000 tonnes of nickel metal over the expected life of mine of 32 years. Ravensthorpe's development was completed in 2007 however; operations were suspended in January 2009 after the nickel price dropped below US$5/lb in late 2008.
The deal is expected to close in Q1 2010.
The First Quantum website is www.First-Quantum.com.