Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook: Metals and minerals 1978-79
Year 1978-79, Volume 1 (1978-1979)
Matthews, Norman A.
Nickel, pp. 629-641 ff. PDF (1.6 MB)
MINERALS YEARBOOK, 1978-79636 WORLD REVIEW Australia.—Western Mining Corp. Ltd. (WMC) reduced operations early in 1978. Several small mines with limited reserves, including Scotia, Carr Boyd, and Fisher, were closed permanently and the lower grade ore operation at Kambalda was put on standby. Production of nickel during calendar year 1978 was estimated at 42,000 tons. Open pit and underground operations at Windarra (jointly owned by WMC and Shell Australia Ltd.) were closed in February and June 1978, respectively, although drilling and underground development continued. The Agnew nickel mine, owned by Mt. Isa Mines Ltd. and Western Selcast (Pty.) Ltd., made initial shipments of concentrate to the Kalgoorlie smelter of WMC late in the year for toll conversion into matte for subsequent refining in the United States at the Amax Nickel Inc. refinery. Initial shipments of matte were received at the AMAX refinery in early 1979. WMC completed the installation of a new shaft smelting furnace at the Kalgoorlie smelter in 1978. Total capacity of 450,000 tons per year of concentrate, equivalent to 90,000 tons per year of nickel in matte, is adequate to process the expected production from its own mines and the toll volume anticipated through 1985. Legislation passed by the Queensland government again permitted refinancing for the Greenvale laterite nickel project of Queensland Nickel Pty. Ltd. The government-guaranteed loans totaled approximately A$90 million. The legislation permits repayments to international and Australian lenders of as low as 5% per year through 1980. Total indebtedness for the project approximated A$350 million in early 1978. Production from the Greenvale mine totaled 20,500 tons of nickel as 90% nickel oxide in 1978, compared with 18,500 tons in 1917. Metal Exploration Ltd. accepted a $1.4 million loan from the Western Australia government to continue a four-year development program at the Nepean nickel mine south of Coolgardie. AMAX, Inc. continued exploratory drilling at the Digger Rocks sulfide deposit at Forrestania. Proven reserves of 1.3 million tons of ore have been defined grading 2.2% nickel at a cutoff grade of 1% nickel. Botswana.—Continued operating losses at the Selebi Pikwe mine and smelter led to a restructuring of the indebtedness of Botswana RST, Limited. Amax Nickel, Inc., agreed to purchase the total matte produc ed. U.S. imports of matte from Botswana contained about 17,800 tons and 14,607 tons of nickel in 1978 and 1979, respectively, with the reduction in 1979 due to shipment curtailment in the last 4 months because of the work stoppage at the Louisiana refinery. These quantities represent nominal capacity operations at Selebi Pikwe. Brazil.—Several new nickel projects have been under consideration in the last few years to develop nickel production capability to keep pace with projected requirements, principally for the expanding steel industry. Construction neared completion on a $100 million project to produce nickel carbonate by hydrometallurgical methods at a laterite site near Niquelandia. The carbonate would be shipped to a new electrolytic refinery near Sao Paulo. Annual capacity of the refinery was stated as 5,500 tons of cathode nickel, doubling to 11,000 tons with completion of a second stage in 1981. The largest new project, at Barro Alto in Goias State, was halted by Inco Ltd., which had the majority interest in the development. Although the Baminco nickel deposit at Barro Alto is the largest known highgrade laterite deposit in Brazil, prospects were not considered promising because of excess production capacity in projects already completed elsewhere. Burundi.—As a result of United Nations exploration activity, sizable deposits of laterite nickel ore have been discovered in the Musongati region. In late 1977, the United Nations awarded a contract to UOP, Inc. to carry out a feasibility study of extraction methods for the ore. During 1978, Ralph M. Parsons Co. carried out an engineering feasibility study, including capital cost and operating revenue estimates. Early in 1979, the Government of Burundi issued invitations to international mining companies to attend a conference in Bujumbura to consider the results of the feasibiltiy studies on a project that is based upon ore reserves of 200 to 300 million tons grading 1.5% nickel and estimated project cost of $850 million. Canada.—Canadian nickel producers cut back operations drastically to achieve reduction of excess inventories that had accumulated since early 1975. By January 1978, several mines had been closed and other closings followed in the early months of the year. Final mining and milling capacity reductions occurred when the mine and mill of Inco Metals Co. (Inco) at Shebandowan, Ontario, were closed in September 1978. By midyear 1978, deliveries exceeded new
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