Australian-based nickel sulphide producer Western Areas has reported significant improvements on the grade of ore mined and cost of production during the March 2019 quarter.
The company’s Forrestania operation, which consist of two of the highest-grade nickel deposits in the world – Flying Fox and Spotted Quoll – continued to improve throughout the quarter, resulting in 6066 tonnes of nickel production.
Western Area’s Cosmic Boy concentrator, which is used to treat the high-grade ore and produce nickel concentrate for sale, operated in line with forecasting despite a planned shut down during the quarter.
Both the nickel mined and concentrate production were the highest quarterly production results for the financial year to date, according to Western Areas.
The Odysseus mine has progressed into the underground decline rehabilitation stage after the installation of a Schlumberger pump in early January.
The pump itself is used for dewatering, electrical reticulation, shaft headgear installation and upgrades for the 520-room camp site in Cosmos village. To date, the pump has rehabilitated 2033 metres of decline to a depth of 236 vertical metres from its surface.
Despite some volatility in the nickel market, Western Areas averaged a realised price of $8.31 per pound (pre payable deductions) for the quarter.
The emerging electrical vehicle battery market has meant the outlook for nickel has continued to gain momentum heading into the June quarter.
This is highlighted by the London Metal Exchange nickel stockpile falling below 175 kilotonnes – its lowest level since 2013 – confirming that supply remains in deficit.
This has provided Western Areas with encouragement for growth in the upcoming offtake renegotiations later this year.