Horizonte Minerals expects to start openpit pre-stripping work at its Araguaia laterite nickel project in Brazil early in the June quarter after signing a five-year mining contract with local company, Fagundes Construcao e Mineracao.
Horizonte is aiming to commence production at the US$450 million project in the first quarter next year.
Thirty-seven-year-old Fagundes is contracted to deliver mining, stockpiling, plant feeding and slag handling services at Araguaia in Para. The company, founded by Jose and Nelsi Fagundes and said to work in seven of Brazil’s 27 states, lists Vale, Anglo American, Gerdau and SSM Mineracao among its mining clients.
“The five-year contract, with an option to extend for a further five years, is in line with Horizonte’s operating cost assumptions stated in the feasibility study, and represents another key de-risking milestone, ensuring that the operational costs will be in the lower quartile of the nickel cost curve,” Horizonte said.
Shallow openpit mining (to 30m or less) with no blasting of 3-3.5 million tonnes per annum of run-of-mine material is expected to produce about 900,000tpa of ore grading up to 2% early in the mine schedule (1.6-1.8% life-of-mine) for delivery to a central rotary kiln electric furnace metallurgical plant. Fagundes’ mobile fleet of circa-70 units is to include 45 tonne hydraulic excavators, 35t-payload dump trucks, 28t articulated trucks and 18t wheel loaders.
Horizonte is aiming to produce 52,000t of ferronickel containing 14,500t of nickel per year over an initial 28-year mine life.