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Atlantic Nickel resumes production at Santa Rita mine in Brazil

The Santa Rita nickel mine in Brazil, one of six assets under Appian’s portfolio. (Image courtesy of Atlantic Nickel)

Brazil’s Atlantic Nickel has resumed commercial production at its vast Santa Rita mine in the northeastern state of Bahia and said the first sale of concentrate will be shipped this month.

The operation, one the world’s largest open pit nickel sulphide mines, was halted in 2015 due to low nickel prices. Plans to restart activities were set in motion when Appian Capital Advisory acquired the mine through the bankruptcy process of its previous operator, Mirabela Nickel, in 2018.

Santa Rita, one the world’s largest open pit nickel sulphide mines, was halted in 2015 due to low nickel prices 

Santa Rita is a fully permitted, past-producing nickel mine with an estimated annual production capacity of 6.5 million tonnes of nickel in sulphide concentrate.

Since blasting restarted in July, Atlantic Nickel has achieved several operational milestones on or ahead of schedule. Refurbishment of the plant is complete, and the ramp-up of commissioning activities has resulted in early production of nickel concentrate, the miner said.

To date, Atlantic Nickel has produced over 11,000 tonnes and has entered into a three-year offtake contract for a portion of Santa Rita’s production, plus a $40.8 million financing arrangement with Trafigura.

“The deal provides the remaining funding required for the restart of the project and establishes a strong relationship with a best-in-class global commodities trading firm,” the miner said in the statement.

Following on recent drilling results, an updated open pit reserve statement is planned for completion in the first quarter of 2020 and the company expects to undertake further drilling this year to continue to grow and define the long life underground resource potential.

Nickel was, by far, the best performer among the London Metal Exchange’s metals last year and is set to remain strong due to an expedited ban on nickel ore exports from Indonesia effective Jan. 1, 2020.