Nova, Tropicana push Independence Group to new heights

The Nova operation in Western Australia. Image: Independence Group

Independence Group (IGO) has continued its record-breaking streak at the Nova nickel-copper operation in Western Australia during the March quarter.

The company produced 8375 tonnes of nickel and 3731 tonnes of copper (up from 7574 tonnes and 3482 tonnes respectively) at record cash costs of $1.50 a pound at Nova, down from an average of $1.94 a pound in the previous period.

IGO’s record quarterly production was primarily a result of higher than expected grades, which in turn pushed down its costs.

Nova’s latest record firmly places the mine as one of the world’s lowest cost nickel operations, according to IGO managing director Peter Bradford.

“This, combined with higher realised nickel prices, generated substantial cash flow for the business and positions IGO to pursue our strategy focused on metals critical for clean energy, both through exploration and by progressing our downstream processing study,” Bradford said.

IGO’s revenues reached $232.8 million for the quarter off the back of a 52 per cent increase at Nova, driven by a rise in nickel and copper sales (18 and 59 per cent respectively), and higher nickel prices (up 16 per cent).

The company also reported “another sound performance” at its Tropicana joint venture (JV) in Western Australia with 123,236 ounces of gold production during the quarter.

Tropicana has the potential to annually produce up to 500,000 ounces over the next five years, thanks to the recently-approved Boston Shaker underground development.

“Tropicana continues to generate strong free cash flow with significant opportunities for further value enhancement,” Bradford said.

“This includes the commitment to the Boston Shaker underground at Tropicana at the end of the quarter, which will deliver first gold production in the September 2020 quarter.”

Nova and Tropicana remain on track to deliver their full-year production guidance, even though IGO’s nickel and copper production is expected to drop marginally in the June 2019 quarter.

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