First Quantum makes moves at Ravensthorpe

First Quantum Minerals has proposed to expand its Ravensthorpe nickel operation in southwestern Australia, adding 220ha to the footprint of the Shoemaker-Levy orebody.  Shoemaker-Levy was officially opened in November 2021, adding 20 years to Ravensthorpe’s mine life, and the proposed expansion would add room for extra pits, topsoil storage and construction of water rock dumps.

The proposal was justified by claiming the company had re-evaluated the resource to find the current proposal was not sufficient to keep the mine viable.  The proposal also identified several environmental areas to address including terrestrial environmental quality, inland waters, social surroundings and greenhouse gas emissions.

Ravensthorpe currently produces up to 220,000 tonnes per annum of nickel-cobalt hydroxide from multiple deposits which is then processed on site.  The proposal has been made available for public review from April 11 to May 26, 2022, with submissions to be made through the Environmental Protection Authority of Western Australia (EPA WA).

First Quantum acquired the decommissioned mine from BHP in 2010 for $US340 million and shipped first nickel concentrate in November 2011.  By 2017 the mine was put on care and maintenance to manage lowly nickel prices, before being restarted once more in 2020.

Ravensthorpe is expected to produce up to 30,000 tonnes of nickel in 2022 in consideration of major shutdowns and descales of autoclaves in March and August.

First Quantum cuts red ribbon at Ravensthorpe

First Quantum Minerals (FQM) has officially opened the Shoemaker-Levy mine at its Ravensthorpe nickel-cobalt operations in Western Australia, extending the operation’s life by 20 years.  Ravensthorpe produced 4248 tonnes of nickel for the September quarter while commissioning continued at Shoemaker-Levy, in time for the new mine’s official opening by Western Australia Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston.

“Congratulations to FQM on the opening of the new Shoemaker-Levy mine,” Johnston said.

“Ravensthorpe has felt the impact of a volatile nickel market in previous years but since 2020 nickel prices have trended upwards because of the increasing global production of batteries.

“This new mine will add decades to the life of this rejuvenated operation, securing jobs and strengthening the McGowan Government’s vision for WA’s future battery industry strategy.”

Previously, Ravensthorpe had 10 years of operation remaining, but the addition of Shoemaker-Levy should now see the mine operate until about 2050.  First Quantum acquired the decommissioned mine from BHP in 2010 for $US340 million (then worth about $A370 million) and shipped first nickel concentrate in November 2011.

Earlier in 2021, Korean steel-making company POSCO acquired a 30 per cent share of the Ravensthorpe operations for $US240 million ($310 million), outlining just how much value First Quantum acquired from its deal with BHP.