Axiom Mining has received positive results from a pre-feasibility study (PFS) into the Isabel Nickel Project in the Solomon Islands. The PFS indicates that the project’s operations will be a low-cost saprolite nickel producer able to provide a steady and reliable premium product to customers.
It establishes a detailed plan for nickel laterite mining on the Kolosori and San Jorge deposits that defines 18 years of mine life. The projects are on San Jorge island, about 135km northwest of the capital Honiara.
The study, completed by IMC Mining, builds on the JORC mineral resource upgrade which was completed and announced on December 29, 2015.
The Kolosori deposit is currently not owned by Axiom, however the company has re-applied for the prospecting licence. The company currently owns 80% of the San Jorge deposit, and it is anticipated it will own 80% of the Kolosori tenement, if successful with the application.
Based on a Life of Mine (LOM) of up to 18 years, this PFS is focused on the development and production of a mine production target of 1.5 million tonnes per annum (wet) product in year one to full operating capacity of 2.2 million tonnes (wet) product by year three.
The scheduling of mining operations has been carried out on the basis of developing the best balance between the optimisation of the resource and maximising the NPV of the project. This has been achieved by dividing the scheduled mine development into mining phases which include year’s one to five (Phase 1) targeting saprolite material that would result in an average of 1.6% nickel (insitu).
For years six to eighteen (Phases 2-4) the PFS incorporates the historical drilling by Inco, which in many cases did not define the full profile of the laterite.
The PFS confirms the financial viability of the project with an NPV of US$188 million and a net profit margin of 35% over the life of the project. IMC has estimated an operational FOB cost of US $11.49/WMT which is low in comparison to other worldwide nickel laterite DSO projects.
The project differentiates itself from other nickel laterite projects due the following unique qualities:
- A large proportion of saprolite that can be readily accessed;
- Very low stripping ratio (almost no waste overlays is highly marketable);
- Access to an efficient and readily available source of labour compared to other nations;
- Easy access to port and shipping channels to Asian markets; and
- Low pre and on-going capital cost commitments.