Commissioning Commences at Nova Nickel-copper Project

Independence Group began commissioning the processing plant at its 100% owned Nova nickel-copper project in southern Western Australia in mid-October, approximately four weeks ahead of schedule. Construction was completed on October 10, and crushing and milling of ore began on October 14.

In the Nova underground mine, approximately 8 kilometers (km) of development had been completed as of mid-October, and some 85,000 mt of ore at an average grade of 1.5% nickel and 0.7% copper had been mined from development and stockpiled on the run-of-mine stockpile. Mining of the first stope began in September in an area defined by grade-control drilling and outside of the current mineral resource model.

Grade-control drilling underground using three drill rigs is progressing faster than planned, and sufficient drilling has been completed to reconcile the resource model between the 2080 and 2030 levels in the mine.

The Nova mine is accessed via a decline. Production is processed through a 1,500-mt/d plant that includes conventional crushing, grinding by an open-circuit SAG mill followed by a ball mill in closed circuit, and sulphide flotation to produce separate nickel and copper concentrates.

After ramping up to full production, the project will produce 27,000 mt/y to 30,000 mt/y of nickel, 9,000 mt/y to 10,000 mt/y of copper, and 900 mt/y to 1,000 mt/y of cobalt in concentrates. Concentrates will be trucked both to Nickel West’s processing facilities at Kambalda and to the port of Esperance for export. The haul distances are 294 km to Kambalda and 380 km to Esperance.

The current JORC-compliant mineral resource totals 14.3 million mt, grading 2.3% nickel, 0.9% copper and 0.08% cobalt.

Independence Group acquired the Nova project when it acquired Sirius Resources in 2015 in a transaction valued at about A$1.8 billion.

As featured in Womp 2016 Vol 11 -