First Quantum Minerals (FQM) has reported second quarter production at the recently re-started Ravensthorpe nickel operation in Australia. The first high-pressure acid leach (HPAL) circuit was brought on-line in April and the second HPAL circuit in May. As a result, the mine and HPAL plant produced 1,979t of contained nickel in the three months ending June, but the company narrowed its full-year production guidance to 15-17kt, compared to its previous guidance of 15-20kt of contained nickel.
The Ravensthorpe operation produces nickel-containing Mixed Hydroxide Product (MHP), an intermediate product that can be further refined into nickel sulphate. This nickel sulphate can then be used in the production of pre-cursor materials for lithium-ion batteries. Given the outlook for nickel in batteries (driven by expectations of strong electric vehicle sales in the years ahead), and because of rising nickel prices in 2019, FQM took the decision to re-start the plant, which had been put on care and maintenance in 2017 (when the LME nickel cash price was around US$10,000/t). The company’s production is, therefore, likely to be sought after by suppliers of nickel sulphate to the battery industry.
Although Ravensthorpe’s all-in sustaining cash costs in the quarter were US$7.30/lb (US$16,094/t) compared to an average LME nickel price in the period of US$5.54/lb (US$12,214/t), these high costs are likely to be as a result of ramping up of operations and will likely fall as full production levels are achieved.
Roskill’s Nickel: Outlook to 2029, 16th Edition report was published in April 2020 and outlines industry trends and forecasts for the next decade. The report forecasts nickel mine supply used in Class I and Class II production. Click here to download the brochure for the report, or to access further information.
Roskill’s Nickel Sulphate: Outlook to 2029, 3rd Edition report was published in May 2020 and includes forecast trends in supply, demand and pricing over the next decade. The report provides detailed profiles for new potential producers and analyses the availability of various feedstock types. Click here for more information.