First Quantum opens Shoemaker-Levy mine

25 November, 2021

The nickel-cobalt operations in Western Australia have had its operation’s life extended by 20 years. This is thanks to First Quantum Minerals opening their Shoemaker-Levy mine. This is an extension of the previously estimated 10 years remaining. The mine is now expected to be in operation until 2050.

Ravensthorpe produced 4248 tonnes of nickel for the September quarter. This is while commissioning continued at Shoemaker-Levy, in time for the new mine’s official opening by Western Australia Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston.

Bill Johnston commented on the opening of the Shoemaker-Levy mine.

“Congratulations to FQM on the opening of the new Shoemaker-Levy mine. 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. The 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.”

The once decommissioned mine was acquired by First Quantum for $340 million in 2010. It shipped its first nickel concentrate in November 2011. Ravensthorpe has sold 202,782 tonnes of nickel and 7527 tonnes of cobalt, since its restart in 2011.

There is yet to be an announcement on how the new Shoemaker-Levy mine will be staffed. There are currently 650 people working on the established mine. 

As an indication of the value First Quantum acquired when they purchased the mine in 2010, Korean steel-making company recently purchased a 30% share for $310 million. POSCO will be provided with a long-term offtake agreement for 7500 tonnes of nickel in mixed nickel-cobalt hydroxide precipitate (MHP) per year from 2024.

POSCO was welcomed by First Quantum chairman and chief executive officer Philip Pascall. 

“Our respective organisations have complementary skillsets which will allow us to maximise the strategic value of Ravensthorpe as a key long-term supplier of nickel to the EV battery sector,” he said.

This article is an extract from Australian Mining.