Canada-based First Quantum Minerals plans to suspend operations at Ravensthorpe, an Australian nickel mine, owing to persistently low nickel price.

The decision of the mining giant to shutter the Ravensthorpe nickel operation in Western Australia will affect about 450 employees and contractors, as per a report in Reuters.

According to First Quantum Minerals, the Ravensthorpe nickel mine will be placed on care and maintenance from September. Full care and maintenance is anticipated to come into effect by early October, said the Vancouver-headquartered firm.

First Quantum Minerals chairman and CEO Philip Pascall said: “This decision is disappointing to us. Ravensthorpe is an excellent operation with an outstanding workforce and supportive community but the continuing depressed nickel market conditions, over some years, leaves us no option.

"Over the next few weeks we will work closely with our employees and key contractors to mitigate the impact and manage carefully the staged shutdown of operations. We will be offering assistance to employees in seeking further employment opportunities.”

First Quantum Minerals expects to spend $10m for the suspension of the operations and to begin care and maintenance of the nickel mine. For the subsequent annual maintenance of the nickel mine, it expects to spend about $5m.

First Quantum Minerals also revealed that the Shoemaker Levy orebody’s permitting process is intended to be continued. Along with that, regular reviews will be carried out by the company of the market conditions for potential restart of operations at Ravensthorpe.

The estimated cost for restarting the operations at the Australian nickel mine has been put at $10m should favorable conditions prevail, said First Quantum Minerals.

First Quantum had acquired Ravensthorpe as a decommissioned nickel operation from BHP in 2010 for $340m.

Image: Ravensthorpe nickel operation in Western Australia. Photo: courtesy of First Quantum Minerals (FQM)/