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MEI Online: Plant Operation News: Australasia: November 1st 2004


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:: WMC's New Nickel Strategy

The introduction of alternate processing technology and a regional program of project development and exploration are at the centre of WMC's nickel growth strategy.

WMC CEO Andrew Michelmore has outlined opportunities to increase nickel production by 25,000 tonnes per annum from 2008/09.

"The extra production will come from the development of a new processing route to treat current and future stockpiles of talc and low grade ores at Mt Keith", said Mr. Michelmore. "A new milling circuit will be combined with the application of Low Pressure Leach technology to treat over 110,000tonnes of nickel already in stockpiles.

Pilot plant trials for the new nickel leach circuit at Mt Keith are underway in the United States. Product from the leach circuit will be fed directly to expanded capacity at WMC's Kwinana nickel refinery or sold as a high value intermediate product.

The capital cost of the plant is forecast to be a low US$7- 8 per annual pound of nickel production. The testwork and associated engineering studies for the concentrator and leach circuit project will be completed in time for construction in 2006.

"The planned development of the Yakabindie deposit with integrated processing at nearby Mt Keith is set to replace current production from the Kambalda region by the end of this decade," Mr Michelmore said. "With the addition of the LPL circuit, we expect to cement our position as a major global producer for the long term."

In addition to the processing and project development plan, WMC continues to actively explore for new nickel deposits to leverage its substantial Western Australian infrastructure.



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