Braemore’s Australian strategy is founded on the reclamation and processing using new technology of large tonnages of nickel sulphide residues at existing mines owned by BHP Billiton.
Braemore’s agreement with BHP Billiton began in 2005 when Braemore Nickel, our wholly-owned subsidiary, was granted exclusive rights to evaluate and run pilot plant tests on nickel tailings at BHP Billiton’s three Western Australian mines – Leinster, Kambalda and Mount Keith.
Subject to the satisfactory outcome of the feasibility study, Braemore Nickel will establish and operate a plant to process Leinster’s nickel tailings, with an initial capacity in excess of 5,000,000 t.p.a. BHP Billiton has agreed to sell the tailings to Braemore Nickel as they are processed at 5% of the value of the contained nickel. Subject to compliance with certain concentrate quality standards, BHP Billiton also has an exclusive right to buy the sulphide concentrates for 70% of the value of contained nickel.
Under the tailings supply agreement, BHP Billiton has the right to acquire a 50% joint venture interest in the project either at the development stage or within three years of the plant’s commissioning.
An independent evaluation has confirmed earlier assessments of 29.61 million tons of inferred and measured resources containing 136,000 tons of nickel metal at Leinster. A similar amount is expected to be produced over Leinster’s remaining mine life.
A similar though smaller-tonnage project at Kambalda is expected to follow Leinster’s development by two years. At this stage the Mount Keith tailings which have lower nickel grades than those of the other two mines have yet to be fully evaluated.
In total, the three properties’ tailings are estimated to contain some 500,000 tons of nickel, and tailings containing a further 500,000 tons are expected to be created over the mines’ remaining lives. However, as mining operations have ceased at Kambalda, it will not contribute to the future tailings deposition.
A simple hydrometallurgical process based on atmospheric leach to produce high quality intermediate nickel sulphide product containing 61% - 65% Ni.