Horizonte kicks off construction of Araguia nickel mine in Brazil

Araguaia is a Tier 1 nickel mining project located south of the Carajás Mining District in the Pará State, Brazil. (Image courtesy of Horizonte Minerals.)

Horizonte Minerals (AIM, TSX: HZM) has kicked off construction of its Araguaia nickel mine in northern Brazil, which is set to produce 29,000 tonnes of the battery metal a year, mostly destined to supply the stainless steel market. 

The fully-funded project, which would take about two years to build, will initially generate 14,500 tonnes of nickel a year.

Construction includes an open pit and a processing plant, which will produce ferronickel over an estimated 28-year period.

Araguaia is considered a key project to diversify Brazil’s mining sector, which is centred on iron ore.

“Whilst we are facing inflationary pressures along with all other global projects, to date we have been able to award approximately 50% of our pre-contingency project direct capex on budget, which is a very positive result,” chief executive Jeremy Martin said in the statement.

Horizonte is also advancing a feasibility study for the Vermelho nickel-cobalt project, also in the Pará state. The asset expected to yield roughly 15,000 tonnes of nickel and 600 tonnes of cobalt a year in a first phase.

Vermelho’s capacity could ramp up to 24,000 tonnes of nickel per year over a 38-year mine life.

Brazil has estimated reserves of 16 million tonnes of nickel and is currently the world’s eighth largest producer, with output of 100,000 tonnes in 2021.

Global nickel usage surged by 16.2% last year driven on the back of soaring demand from both the stainless steel and battery end-use sectors.

The result was a supply shortfall of 168,000 tonnes, the largest production deficit in at least a decade, according to the International Nickel Study Group’s latest statistical snapshot on the market.