The Ravensthorpe nickel mine, which achieved commercial production on December 28, 2011, is 100% owned by First Quantum. The mine is located within the shire of Ravensthorpe, Western Australia, approximately 550 kilometres south-east of Perth.
Ravensthorpe was acquired as a decommissioned nickel operation in February 2010. During the following 18 months, we made significant modifications to the processing plant focusing mainly on the redesign of the crushing, conveying, storage, reclaim and rejects areas. The achievement of commercial production and its internal performance benchmarks, ahead of schedule, is a major technical success for First Quantum.
Operations at Ravensthorpe involve open pit mining and beneficiation of nickel laterite ore, pressure acid leaching, atmospheric leaching, counter current decantation, precipitation and filtration to produce a mixed hydroxide precipitate product, containing approximately 40% nickel and 1.4% cobalt on a dry basis. Sulphuric acid for the leaching process is produced on site in a 4,400 tonnes per day sulphur burning, double absorption acid plant, with waste heat being recovered to produce steam via three 18MW steam turbines, for the generation of power and to provide heat for the leaching process.
Ravensthorpe’s average annual production of nickel is expected to be approximately 36,000 tonnes for the next five years of operations with an average annual production of 28,000 tonnes over its expected mine life.