Western Areas’ recently approved Odysseus underground nickel project in Western Australia is on track after hitting several early-stage milestones.
The $299 million project, part of the company’s Cosmos Operations, delivered a positive feasibility study last October.
Western Areas is aiming for first concentrate in December 2022, with plans to provide supply for the electric vehicle (EV) sector.
The first phase of early works at the project is primarily focused on water management and dewatering, including the construction of two evaporation ponds, which have now been completed.
Further progress includes the installation of a Schlumberger submersible pump for dewatering; electrical reticulation; shaft headgear installation; and upgrades for the 520-room camp site (the Cosmos village) to meet the needs of staff during initial works.
The submersible pump will add 100 litres per second of additional pump capacity from a depth of 500 metres below surface.
Contractor Barminco will kick off the second phase of Odysseus’ early works program in mid-January by providing decline rehabilitation mining services for six months.
Following that, a pump station will be installed to assist ongoing dewatering at the AM5 and AM6 deposits, which host a combined indicated mineral resource of 57,600 tonnes of nickel.
Western Areas managing director Dan Lougher said he expected the project to be funded from the company’s cash reserves in its initial years, with significant capital not being required until the 2022 and 2023 financial years.
The project boasts an overall ore reserve of 164,500 tonnes of nickel and is estimated to produce 130,000 tonnes of contained nickel in concentrate across a 10-year mine life.
“Odysseus is an important growth asset for Western Areas and should be one of the few new global nickel sulphide operations scheduled to come online as the forecast uplift in nickel demand for electric vehicles impacts the market in the 2022 timeframe,” he said.
“To realise this potential, our focus now turns to the next phase of activity related to establishing the underground mine infrastructure.”