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Munali Ni mine targets end 2018 restart

07 Feb 2018 16:31 GMT
Munali Ni mine targets end 2018 restart

Cape Town, 7 February (Argus) — The Munali nickel mine in Zambia is expected to return to production by the end of 2018 after seven years of care and maintenance.

Consolidated Nickel Mines aims to complete a $40mn debt and equity fund-raising exercise by mid-2018. And in the second half of the year it expects to bring the mine back into production mode within six months of financing, chief operating officer Craig Bailey said.

"We have $10-15mn semi secured and hope to raise the rest through equity investment," he said.

The mine's decline is fully developed to a level of 300 metres. But the on-surface processing plant needs rehabilitation and improvement. A dense media separation plant will be added. The mining licence is owned by China's Jinchuan Group.

Consolidated Nickel originally intended to produce a single concentrate. But it will now produce a nickel concentrate and a copper concentrate with palladium as a by-product. The nickel concentrate will be marketed to battery producers.

The company aims to produce 5,000 t/yr of nickel in concentrate, grading 10-12pc nickel and 500 t/yr copper in concentrate, grading 25pc copper. Palladium at 35 g/t is expected as a by-product.

An initial mine life of seven years is forecast. There is potential to increase this to 10 years and possibly grow the resource through further exploration and treatment of satellite deposits. Munali's mineral resource is 6.01mn t, grading 1.0pc nickel.

The mine produced 90,000-100,000 t/month of ore before it went into care and maintenance under previous owners, due to low prices and poor operational performance. The new owners aim to produce 60,000 t/month of ore. Offtake discussions are being held with traders, Bailey said.

There are very few producing nickel mines in Africa. They include the multi-commodity Nkomati mine in South Africa and minor production in Zambia and Botswana.