First Quantum signals potential restart of Ravensthorpe mine

Ravensthorpe mine in Australia. Image from Wikipedia.

First Quantum Minerals (TSE: FM) is investigating the possibility of re-starting its idled Ravensthorpe nickel/cobalt operation in Australia, according to UK-based market research firm Roskill.

The Vancouver-based company acquired the Ravensthorpe mine and processing plant from BHP in February 2010, with commercial production reached in December 2011. However, the mine was later placed under care and maintenance in October 2017 due to low nickel prices (LME nickel cash price averaged 10,524/t in Q3 2017).

Since then, the price of nickel has recovered. In Q1 2019, LME cash price averaged 12,366/t – more than 17% higher than it was when Ravensthorpe’s operations was suspended. If market conditions continue to improve, operations could resume as early as Q1 2020, the company said.

According to First Quantum’s latest MD&A report, initial planning for the resumption of operations at Ravensthorpe has already begun. Restart costs are estimated at $10 million.

In 2017, Ravensthorpe generated $146 million in revenue from its nickel production and $17 million from cobalt. First Quantum also operates six other mines across three continents, including Kansanshi, the largest copper mine in Africa.

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