Western Areas overcomes bushfire threat with solid December quarter

Bushfires near the Forrestania nickel operations. Image: Western Areas.

Western Areas is tracking well towards its production guidance for the 2020 financial year, thanks to a consistent performance at the Forrestania nickel operations in Western Australia.

The company produced 5399 nickel tonnes at Forrestania for the December quarter.

This contributed to Western Areas’ total nickel production of 5849 tonnes during the period, finishing off the first half of the 2020 financial year with 11,654 tonnes.

Western Areas is progressing well towards its 2020 financial year guidance of 21,000 to 22,000 tonnes with a mill production of 10,658 nickel tonnes for the half year.

The company also achieved a record net free cashflow of $19 million after all capital expenditure, exploration and payment of the 2019 financial year dividend.

While there were no injuries or reportable environmental issues caused by the bushfires at Forrestania, Kambalda deliveries were delayed due to bushfire-related road closures, building up nickel concentrate stockpiles in December.

One export shipment consequently missed the quarter end and left port on January 1. Western Areas plans to reverse timing differences in the March quarter.

Western Areas’ Odysseus mine in the Goldfields-Esperance region in Western Australia is also making “excellent” construction progress.

The company hit key development milestones at Odysseus during the December period, including commissioning the pump station and water reticulation systems.

Underground decline rehabilitation was also under way in newly dewatered areas of the mine.

“Along with strong, consistent results from our existing operations, our new mine at Odysseus continues to take shape, with significant infrastructure work now complete,” Western Areas managing director Dan Lougher said.

“The improved terms from our latest round of nickel offtake contracts will deliver enhanced revenues, while demonstrating that future demand for nickel is expected to be robust.”

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