Xstrata closes nickel mine in Australia

Xstrata (LON:XTA) announced Wednesday it is suspending operations at its Cosmos nickel mine in Western Australia, as nickel prices have plummeted dramatically.

About 150 employees, both permanent employees and contractors, will lose their jobs as the miner starts a care-and-maintenance schedule at the mine.

However, Xstrata said that the evaluation of the newly discovered Odysseus, Odysseus North and Odysseus Massive deposits would continue at Cosmos, with a view to complete a feasibility study by the first quarter of 2014, to enable an investment decision, dependent on market conditions.

The miner, which is also cutting back coal production in Australia due to anaemic prices and high costs, said its nearby Sinclair Nickel Operation was unaffected and is expected to produce about 7,000 tonnes of nickel in concentrate this year.

Cosmos first produced concentrate in April 2000. Since then, more than 2.9 million tonnes of ore have been successfully mined at Cosmos to produce 127,000 tonnes of nickel in concentrate, including an estimated 4,200 tonnes year-to-date in 2012.