Enterprise is an open-pit nickel mine located in the Kalumbila district of North Western Province in Zambia. The project is owned and operated by Kalumbila Minerals, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Canadian metals and mining company First Quantum Minerals.
The Enterprise nickel mine forms part of the larger Trident project that was originally undertaken by Kiwara. First Quantum Minerals became the owner of the Sentinel copper mine as well as the Enterprise nickel project after acquiring Kiwara in a £208m ($260m) cash and share deal in January 2010.
The construction of a 38,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) nickel process plant for the Enterprise project was completed in 2016. The process plant, however, has been integrated with the Sentinel copper circuit in order to produce additional copper concentrate till mining activities take place at the Enterprise open-pit.
The environmental approval for the Enterprise project has already been granted and preparatory works are already completed. First Quantum is waiting for the market conditions to become favourable for initiating mining activities for the Enterprise project.
Enterprise is expected to be a low-cost nickel mining operation. Its production capacity can be increased from 38,000t to 60,000t of nickel concentrate a year.
Location, geology, and mineralisation
The Enterprise nickel project is situated in the northwest portion of the Trident project area, approximately 12km away from the Sentinel copper mine.
The project site lies in the Kalumbila district of North Western Province, Zambia, approximately 150km west of Solwezi.
Enterprise is a sediment-hosted nickel-sulphide deposit located on the margins of the Mesoproterozoic Kabompo Dome which is surrounded by a thick succession of Neoproterozoic sedimentary rocks belonging to the Katanga Supergroup.
Nickel reserves at Enterprise
The Enterprise nickel project is estimated to hold 34.7 million tonnes (Mt) of proven and probable ore reserves grading 0.99% nickel. Out of 34.7Mt, primary sulphide ore reserves account for 28.9Mt while the remaining 5.8Mt are non-primary sulphide ore reserves.
The total measured and indicated ore resources at the deposit are estimated to be 37.7Mt grading 1.01% nickel.
Mining and ore processing for the Enterprise nickel project
Enterprise will be a conventional open-pit mining operation. The extracted ore will be sent to the Sentinel copper project processing facility.
The run-of-the mine ore will first pass through a primary crusher and the ore material from the crushed ore stockpile will be conveyed at a rate of four million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) into the processing plant.
The crushed ore will be ground in a semi-autogenous (SAG) mill and a ball mill before undergoing rougher and cleaner flotation processes for the production of concentrate grading up to 30% nickel.
The obtained concentrate will be thickened and filtered in a dedicated concentrate handling facility.
The tailings will be discharged to the Sentinel copper project tailings thickeners and tailings storage facility.
The Enterprise mine will use the common processing and tailings storage facilities being used for the Sentinel copper mine.
The Enterprise project site can be accessed through a 25km-long sealed road from the highway that connects Solwezi and Mwinilunga.
The electricity to the project site is supplied by Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO) through approximately 600km of 330kV transmission lines with five substations at Kansanshi, Lumwana, Kalumbila, Lusaka West, and Mumbwa.
The water supply for the project is sourced from the nearby Chisola River.
Australia-based CPC Engineering provided detailed engineering and design services for the 4Mtpa processing plant for the Enterprise nickel project.