Canadian-based First Quantum Minerals plans to suspend its Ravensthorpe nickel operation in Western Australia following consistently low nickel prices.
The operation is set to be placed on care and maintenance in the beginning of September 2017, with full care and maintenance to take place by early October.
First Quantum chairman and CEO Philip Pascall said the decision was disappointing for the company.
“Ravensthorpe is an excellent operation with an outstanding workforce and supportive community but the continuing depressed nickel market conditions, over some years, leaves us no option,” he said.
“Over the next few weeks we will work closely with our employees and key contractors to mitigate the impact and manage carefully the staged shutdown of operations. We will be offering assistance to employees in seeking further employment opportunities.”
Pascall also thanked the workforce, community and all levels of government who helped the operations restart in 2011.
First Quantam’s second quarter results for 2017 noted a growth in copper production, however nickel production was reduced. It recorded 11,512 tonnes of nickel for the first six months ending June 30 compared to 12,088 tonnes the year before.
At the time Pascall also noted that Ravensthorp “continues to face an ongoing challenging nickel price market”.
The care and maintenance costs for Ravensthorpe are estimated at US$10 million, with subsequent annual maintenance costs of around US$5 million.