As per the current forecasts, the first nickel ore from the Durkin North and Long North mines are likely to be extracted in the December 2021 quarter


First nickel ore from the Kambalda nickel operations is now expected to be drawn in the December quarter of this year. (Credit: Khusen Rustamov from Pixabay)

Mincor Resources announced that the first nickel concentrate from its Kambalda nickel operations (KNO) in Western Australia (WA) has been delayed to the second quarter of next year (Q2 2022) due to a shortage of labour in the region.

The company was scheduled to deliver the first ore delivery from the Kambalda nickel project to the BHP Nickel West Kambalda Nickel Concentrator during the March quarter of 2022.

Mincor said that although its development programme continued to be largely on track during the September quarter, a step-change in activity slated from mid-September/early October 2021 could not meet the pre-Covid-19 forecasts.

It blamed the labour shortage in the WA resource sector as the main reason for the delay.

As per the current forecasts, the company expects the first nickel ore to be extracted from the historic producing nickel sulphide mines – Durkin North and Long North in the December 2021 quarter.

On the other hand, first nickel ore from the greenfield Cassini deposit is anticipated to be drawn early in the March 2022 quarter, said the company.

Mincor Resources said that it has sent a ‘start notice’ to BHP Nickel West of its plans to supply first ore for processing at the latter’s concentrator under the terms of the ore tolling and concentrate purchase agreement (OTCPA) signed by the parties.

Mincor Resources managing director David Southam said: “We have been very pleased with the progress BHP has been making as they prepare the Kambalda Nickel Concentrator for restart.

“Notwithstanding, our ramp-up programme has not been immune to the current challenges facing the Western Australian mining sector, particularly against the backdrop of what has become an unprecedented tight labour market, exacerbated by COVID-19.

“Our original development schedule, which was created in a pre-COVID environment, envisaged a ramp-up of activity and skilled blue collar labour supply mid-September and into early October.”

According to the company, its integrated restart plan allows for a stockpile build between first ore and first concentrate. This enables sufficient ore stocks to be piled up before they are sent for processing at BHP’s nickel concentrator, said the company.

Earlier this year, Mincor Resources secured an A$55m ($41.4m) syndicated facility from a banking syndicate for the Kambalda nickel operations.