Western Areas looks to expand in WA

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Western Areas says it is aiming to ramp up production in WA and become Australia’s second largest nickel miner.

Western Areas currently owns two mines in the Forrestania region, near the WA Goldfields, and its soon-to-be managing director Dan Lougher told AAP expanding operations in the area was a priority.

However Lougher, who takes over from current MD Julian Hanna next month, said the low grade Diggers South project was unviable at current nickel prices.

Lougher told AAP the company was also looking at achieving first production at its Canadian assets within two years and its Finnish projects within five years.

He also said the company would look overseas to Africa if the WA assets did not perform.

Lougher said he expected the nickel price to rise significantly over the next 12 to 24 months, and higher prices would see more production in WA.

In the Australian Mining Metals Outlook for 2012-13 analysts from IBISWorld and BIS Shrapnel said nickel prices were set to rise but the increase would be seen over the next decade instead of the short term future.

Image: Bloomberg/ Ron D’Raine

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