ONTARIO - XSTRATA NICKEL has announced that the main production shaft at its Nickel Rim South project, near Sudbury, reached bottom at a depth of 1,735 metres on Dec. 20, 2007. The shaft was sunk without a lost time injury over the course of 30 months and 540,000 work hours. This follows the completion of the vent shaft in May 2007, which achieved the same safety record, for a combined 3.7 years, or 926,000 work hours, without a lost time injury.
Discovered in 2001, Nickel Rim South promises to be one of the lowest cost mines in the history of Xstrata Nickel's Sudbury operations. The project is located 9 km north of the Sudbury smelter. Nickel Rim South is a high grade mineral resource located between 1,100 metres and 1,700 metres depth with 14.5 million tonnes inferred resource grading 1.6% Ni, 3.1% Cu, 0.03% Co, 1.7 g/t Pt, 1.9 g/t Pd, 14 g/t Ag and 0.7 g/t Au.
The project team and shaft sinking partner, CEMENTATION CANADA INC., sunk the shafts with productivities consistently ahead of plan and within budget. Nickel Rim South required two shafts: one for production purposes, the other for ventilation and a second egress. Shaft sinking commenced in the ventilation shaft in February 2005, with the production shaft following four months later.
The completion of the Main Shaft is a critical milestone in the development of Nickel Rim South, keeping the project on schedule to ramp up to 60% of its ultimate 1.25 million tonne/year production capacity in 2009. Nickel Rim South is expected to provide a high value ore feed for more than 15 years, while significantly reducing Sudbury's unit costs. The project has played a key role in transforming Xstrata Nickel's Sudbury operations from closure to growth mode. For more information visit www.xstrata.com. Xstrata Nickel is the world's fourth largest nickel producer, with annual managed production of more than 110,000 tonnes of refined nickel.