Kambalda has run on nickel dust since it kicked off the base metal’s Australian boom in the 1960s. It is now facing having virtually no nickel production in the town by February next year, with Independence Group saying reserve life extensions at the harvesting phase Long nickel mine have proved unsuccessful.
Long — which delivered 2365 tonnes of nickel to the BHP Billiton Kambalda concentrator in the December quarter — and RNC Minerals’ Beta Hunt, which is now largely a gold operation, are the only producing nickel mines in Kambalda, where a series of operations have been put on care and maintenance amid low prices for the stainless steel ingredient since 2015.
Independence Group managing director Peter Bradford, who is also grappling with lagging development at the company’s flagship Nova nickel- copper mine 160km east of Norseman, said drilling at Victor West had proven unsuccessful.
It is now hoping to find extensions at Long North, but said IGO could not expand a $2 million-$3 million a year exploration budget in Kambalda unless realistic targets were found.
“In the first half we were drilling at what we call Victor West, but that work didn’t prove to be successful and we’re getting ready to do some work at Long North,” he said, adding the company was revisiting 3-D seismic data from a decade ago with new technology.
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