(All amounts expressed in US dollars unless otherwise indicated)
TORONTO, Nov. 1, 2011 /CNW/ - Royal Nickel Corporation ("RNC") (TSX: RNX) is advancing its Dumont Nickel Project ("Dumont") based on the results of a positive pre-feasibility study ("PFS") that demonstrates a robust project with a large, world-class resource and excellent project economics with upside potential. Once in full production, Dumont is expected to be among the top five sulphide nickel assets globally, based on annual nickel production.
Dumont PFS Highlights
"This pre-feasibility study delivered outstanding results," said Tyler Mitchelson, President and CEO of Royal Nickel Corporation. "This study clearly demonstrates the benefits of the staged development approach with a much simpler, lower cost and lower risk flowsheet. When combined with the project's outstanding location next to existing infrastructure and in Quebec — one of the top mining jurisdictions in the world — this pre-feasibility study provides a very strong foundation on which to advance this exceptional project, one which we believe is at the forefront of the next generation of nickel sulphide projects."
Project development remains on schedule and RNC intends to advance the project on multiple fronts with a view to obtaining permits by the end of 2013 and commencing production by the end of 2015. Ongoing activities include:
"Royal Nickel's pre-feasibility study provides strong validation of the confidence we have maintained in the company since its founding," said Scott Hand, Executive Chairman of Royal Nickel. "We have a tremendous base metal project in Dumont, and an outstanding management team to advance it. I continue to have every confidence that Dumont is poised to become a world-class nickel producer."
|Strip Ratio1||Waste : Ore||1.23||1.17||1.18|
|Ore Grade||% Ni||0.33||0.29||0.24||0.27|
|Nickel In Concentrate||MM lbs||263||1,564||748||2,575|
|Annual Production (Contained metals in concentrate)|
|Nickel||MM lbs (kt)||62 (28)||108 (49)||59 (27)||82 (37)|
|Cobalt||MM lbs (kt)||3 (1)||6 (3)||6 (3)||6 (3)|
|PGM (Pt + Pd)||k oz||13||23||14||18|
|Operating Revenue and Costs|
|C1 Cash Costs||$/lb||$3.80||$4.29||$3.91||$4.13|
Additional cost and financial information can be found in the remainder of the press release A detailed production schedule can be accessed at the following link [RNC Pre-feasibility Production Profile]. Also, a site layout can be accessed at the following link [RNC Pre-feasibility Site Layout].
Additional Upside Opportunities
Ferronickel Final Product — Potential to Improve Recoveries and Reduce Treatment and Refining Costs
A separate study is underway to determine the feasibility of processing the nickel concentrate anticipated to be produced from Dumont ("Dumont Concentrate") through an alternate processing option, widely used in many locations in Asia, to produce a final ferronickel product that can be consumed directly by the stainless steel industry.
In lab scale testwork, high-grade ferronickel was produced using proven and widely used downstream roasting and reduction processes, creating the potential for an alternate processing option. This alternate processing option has the potential to provide higher recoveries, lower costs and greater flexibility than conventional smelting and refining.
Based on the testwork completed to date, ferronickel from Dumont Concentrate is expected to generate a high-grade ferronickel at 55-60% nickel content that compares favourably to typical ferronickel products containing 15-40% nickel. Significant economic benefits could be realized through its potential to be lower cost, while delivering higher recoveries (98-99% of the nickel in Dumont Concentrate compared to the 90-93% typically paid by certain smelters).
In addition, this option gives RNC greater flexibility because it is already widely used in many locations in Asia, and therefore provides far more partnership opportunities for the anticipated development of Dumont (see RNC news release "Royal Nickel Successfully Produces High-Grade Ferronickel Product Directly from Dumont Concentrate" dated October 3, 2011).
Magnetite Concentrate — Additional By-product Credit Opportunity
Very preliminary lab scale testwork has indicated that a high grade iron ore (magnetite) concentrate grading approximately 68% iron can be produced by taking the tails from the existing magnetic separation circuit in the mill and upgrading them by regrinding and separating them with a low intensity magnetic separation circuit. In the test sample, the final magnetite concentrate produced was 2.4% of the initial ore feed. At 100 ktpd operation, 2.4% of the mill feed could represent production of over 850,000 tonnes of magnetite concentrate annually. Additional testwork is currently underway to determine the feasibility and marketability of the product for the steel making industry and the results are expected to be incorporated into the feasibility study.
Additional Recovery Optimization — Potential Mill Recovery Improvements
During the pre-feasibility study work, significant insights were gained into differences in the mineralogy in different parts of the orebody and how these differences had an impact on recovery. The parts of the orebody that had higher amounts of heazlewoodite and had gone through a greater degree of serpentinization tended to have higher recovery, while those parts of the orebody that had higher amounts of awaruite and had gone through less serpentinization tended to have lower recovery. Currently, higher heazlewoodite zones are under-represented in the metallurgical samples that were used to determine recoveries. Additional recovery and mineralogy tests from across the orebody will be completed in order to better understand these relationships with the potential to improve recoveries from current levels.
Open Pit Optimization — In-pit Crushing/Trolley Assist — Potential Mining Cost Improvement
Pit design analysis performed during the PFS appears to provide the potential to utilize either in-pit crushing or trolley assist to improve the overall mining cost for the project by allowing electricity use, either through conveyors or trucks able to use electricity on uphill hauls, to replace a portion of the diesel fuel consumed by trucks. Approximately 50% of the life of project diesel fuel consumption (1.2 billion litres) is used in uphill hauls. Detailed work to optimize the mine plan and pit design during the feasibility study may unlock this potential.
The PFS builds on the PEA of September 2010. Since the PEA, considerable work on both the mineral resource and metallurgy has been completed. As announced previously, the flowsheet in the pre-feasibility study was simplified. This led to significant operating and capital cost benefits with a loss in recovery. The mini-plant program, additional lab scale testwork and mineralogical sample analysis (694 versus 189 samples utilized in the PEA) completed during the pre-feasibility work in 2011, as well as the addition of in-house metallurgical expertise, helped to significantly improve the understanding of the mineralogical factors that affect recovery. The larger scale mini pilot plant program allowed cleaning recoveries to be tested. The additional understanding and updated recovery formulas were then incorporated into the block model, allowing the overall impact on recovery to be assessed. The areas of the orebody that are dominated by awaruite mineralization had significantly lower recovery than what was assumed in the PEA. The areas of sulphide or mixed mineralization had lower recovery primarily driven by lower cleaner recoveries than assumed in the PEA and certain specific areas of the orebody that have higher amounts of fine grained pentlandite did not recover as well as sulphide minerals in the rest of the orebody.
The Dumont Project will be a conventional open pit mine/mill operation, using conventional drilling, blasting, loading with electric shovels and truck haulage. The process plant will have an initial average throughput of 50 ktpd using a single SAG mill and 2 ball mills for grinding, desliming using cyclones, conventional flotation and magnetic separation, to produce a nickel concentrate also containing cobalt and PGM by-products. The process plant has been designed to be expanded by the fifth year of operation to 100 ktpd by effectively duplicating most of the first mill. Additional mine equipment will also be purchased to allow the corresponding increase in mine throughput.
The Dumont PFS was completed by Ausenco Limited, a global leader in engineering and project management services for the resource and energy sectors. Ausenco was chosen for the Dumont PFS because of its expertise and experience with similar sized, large scale base metal projects, and proven experience with processing of ultramafic nickel deposits. Ausenco has successfully designed and constructed the Lumwana concentrator (55 ktpd) for Equinox Minerals, the Phu Kham concentrator (33 ktpd) for PanAust and is currently executing the GDP3 expansion (new 30 ktpd concentrator) of the Gibraltar Mine for Taseko. Significant contributions to the report were made by SRK Consulting (Canada) Inc. (resource model, geotechnical), David Penswick (mine design, financial evaluation), GENIVAR (environmental) and Golder Associates (environmental geochemistry).
The Dumont Nickel Project is located in the western portion of the province of Quebec. The property is located approximately 25 km west of the city of Amos, approximately 60 km northeast of the industrial and mining city of Rouyn-Noranda and 70 km northwest of the city of Val-d'Or.
Mineral Resources (inclusive of mineral reserves)
Mineral Resource Statement, Dumont Nickel Project, Quebec, SRK Consulting, November 1, 20111.
|(000 tonnes)||(million pounds)|
|Measured & Indicated||1,410||0.27||3,820||8,419|
Mineral Reserve Statement, Dumont Nickel Project, Quebec, David Penswick, November 1, 20111
|(000 tonnes)||(million pounds)|
Approximately 50 million tonnes of material would be pre-stripped prior to start-up of operations. The life-of-mine plan is expected to mine 2.3 billion tonnes of material consisting of 1.2 billion tonnes of waste rock and overburden and 1.1 billion tonnes of ore over a 19-year mine life using electric rope shovels and 240 tonne haul trucks. The lower grade portion of the ore will be stockpiled in order to maximize throughput of higher value ore in the earlier years. The overall strip ratio for the project is 1.2:1.
Approximately 0.5 billion tonnes of the lower grade ore stockpile is expected to remain at the end of mine life and be processed for an additional 12 years, utilizing the open pit mine for tailings disposal.
A detailed production schedule can be accessed at the following link [RNC Pre-feasibility Production Profile].
The nickel recovery plant and associated infrastructure facilities will process run of mine ore delivered to a primary crusher feeding a conventional milling process consisting of a primary gyratory crusher, SAG and ball mill combination, desliming, nickel flotation and magnetic separation of the flotation tails. Subsequent cleaning stages on both the flotation and magnetic concentrate then occur. The nickel concentrate will be thickened and filtered on site. The concentrate is then loaded on either truck or rail for shipment to third party smelters.
In addition to nickel recovery, cobalt, platinum and palladium are also recovered to the nickel concentrate. Cobalt recovery has been estimated at 70% to follow pentlandite recovery, as the majority of the cobalt is contained in the pentlandite mineral. Platinum and palladium recovery to concentrate has been estimated based on two concentrates assays of 2 g/t Pt, and 3g/t Pd in the combined concentrate from the locked cycle tests.
The concentrate grade in the nickel concentrate is expected to exceed 34% Ni for the first 15 years before decreasing, ultimately to 30%, when stockpiled material is treated after the pit is depleted.
A detailed production schedule can be accessed at the following link [RNC Pre-feasibility Production Profile].
The tailings storage system consists of a tailings storage facility ("TSF") located immediately north of the mine/mill complex. The TSF is designed to store 602 million tonnes of thickened tailings — enough for the first 19 years that the pit will be active. After that, as mining has ceased in the open pit, the mill tailings will be pumped directly into the open pit. Process water will be stored in lined ponds near the plant site. Process water will be a combination of water pumped from the mine, recycle from the TSF, surface water capture and some extraction of water from the Villemontel River.
The Dumont project is located adjacent to a rail line and highway and a power line with sufficient capacity for the construction period. A short 8 km rail spur will be built off the rail line to provide access into the mine property and a 40 km power line from an existing sub-station will be constructed to provide sufficient power once operation commences.
Capital Cost Estimate
Summary of Capital Costs ($ millions)1
|($ millions)||Initial Capital||Expansion
Contingency of 15% on direct and indirect costs for the initial capital estimate is based upon a line item review of the level of engineering definition achieved for the PFS by area.
At a CDN$/US$ exchange rate at par, the initial cost would be $1.2 billion and the expansion capital would be $0.8 billion
Operating Cost Estimate
|G & A||$0.20|
|Total Site Cost||$3.53|
|TC / RC||$1.15|
Economic Analysis and Sensitivities
All metal price assumptions are the same as the figures used for the PEA with the exception of nickel price which was increased to $9.00 per pound from $7.50 per pound, consistent with the average long-term nickel prices used by the five analysts who currently cover RNC (average $9.04) and the average LME cash nickel price from the beginning of 2008 until September 30, 2011 of $9.17 per pound.
|NPV ($ millions @ 8%)||$1,918||$1,083|
|Simple Payback Period (years)||-||6.5|
NPV calculated from construction start date (January 2014) using October 2011 real dollar estimates.
|NPV Discount Rate (%)||8%|
|Nickel Price ($ per pound)||$9.00|
|Initial Capital Cost ($ millions)||$1,112|
|Expansion Capital Cost ($ millions)||$733|
|Total Site Operating Cost ($ millions)||$8,435|
|Total Sustaining Capital Cost ($ millions)||$733|
|Total TC/RC Costs ($ millions)||$3,052|
|Cobalt Price ($ per pound)||$12.00|
|Platinum Price ($ per ounce)||$1,500|
|Palladium Price ($ per ounce)||$750|
|Electricity (CDN$ per kilowatt hour)||$0.043|
|Nickel Price ±$1/lb||$445||3.2%|
|Nickel Price ±10% ($8.10 - $9.90/lb)||$402||2.8%|
|Mill Recovery ±1.0%||$104||0.8%|
|Payable Nickel ±1%||$44||0.3%|
|Initial Capital Expenditure ±10%||$76||1.1%|
|Expansion Capital Expenditure ±10%||$35||0.4%|
|Total Capital Expenditure ±10%||$132||1.6%|
|Site Operating Costs ±10%||$271||1.8%|
|Cobalt Price ±$1||$16||0.1%|
|Oil Price ±$10||$24||0.2%|
GENIVAR, a leading international engineering consulting firm, has been retained to complete both the Avis de Projet ("Project Notice"), which initiates the environmental permitting process and is expected to be filed before the end of November 2011, and the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) which is expected to be filed in mid-2012, all with a view to obtaining permits for the project before the end of 2013. To further assist in the permitting process, RNC initiated a stakeholder consultation process. The results of the first phase of consultations have been considered in the development of the PFS.
Geochemical testwork has shown that the waste rock and the tailings are not expected to be acid generating and the tailings will not require sub-aqueous deposition. Multiple baseline studies have been completed and have not indicated any major environmental constraint.
NI 43-101 Compliance
The technical information in this news release has been prepared in accordance with Canadian regulatory requirements by, or under the supervision of, Paul Staples, P. Eng., of Ausenco Limited, Sébastien Bernier of SRK Consulting (Canada) Inc. and David Penswick, P. Eng., all of whom are independent Qualified Persons as set out in National Instrument 43-101 Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects ("NI 43-101"). Technical information in this news release was reviewed by Alger St-Jean, P. Geo., Vice President, Exploration of RNC and Qualified Person and Johnna Muinonen P. Eng., Vice President, Metallurgy, of RNC and Qualified Person.
The Mineral Resource for the Dumont Deposit was classified according to the CIM Definition Standards for Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves (December 2005) by Sébastien Bernier, P. Geo (OGQ#1034, APGO#1847), an appropriate independent person for the purpose of NI 43‐101. Mr. Bernier has reviewed the resource statement presented in this news release.
The Mineral Reserve for the Dumont Deposit was classified according to the CIM Definition Standards for Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves (December 2005) by David Penswick, P. Eng. (PEO#100111644), an appropriate independent person for the purpose of NI 43‐101. Mr. Penswick has reviewed the technical content of this news release.
Readers are advised that Mineral Resources not included in Mineral Reserves do not demonstrate economic viability. Mineral Resource estimates do not account for mineability, selectivity, mining loss and dilution. These Mineral Resource estimates include Inferred Mineral Resources that are normally considered too speculative geologically to have economic considerations applied to them that would enable them to be categorized as mineral reserves. There is no certainty that Inferred Mineral Resources will be converted to Measured and Indicated categories through further drilling, or into Mineral Reserves, once economic considerations are applied.
Based on the resource estimate, a standard methodology for pit limit analysis, mining sequence and cut-off grade optimization, including application of mining dilution, process recovery, economic criteria and physical mine and plant operating constraints has been followed to design the open pit mine and to determine the mineral reserve estimate for the deposit as summarized in the Mineral Reserve table.
The full Dumont PFS, prepared as a NI 43-101 compliant Technical Report, will be filed under RNC's profile on SEDAR at www.sedar.com within 45 days.
Royal Nickel will be hosting a conference call and webcast to discuss the PFS highlights on Tuesday, November 1, 2011 beginning at 10:00 a.m. (Eastern Time). Participants may join the call by dialing toll free 1-888-231-8191 or 1-647-427-7450 for local calls or calls from outside Canada and the United States. A live webcast of the call will be available through CNW Group's website at: www.newswire.ca/en/webcast/index.cgi.
A recording of the conference call will be available for replay for a one week period beginning at approximately 1:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) on November 1, 2011 by dialing toll free 1-855-859-2056 or 1-416-849-0833 for local calls or calls from outside Canada and the United States. The pass code for the replay is 22224858. A replay of the webcast and the associated webcast presentation will be available through a link on our website at www.royalnickel.com.
About Royal Nickel Corporation
Royal Nickel Corporation is a mineral resource company focused primarily on the exploration, development, evaluation and acquisition of base metal and platinum group metal properties. RNC's principal asset is the 100% owned Dumont Nickel Project strategically located in the established Abitibi mining camp, 25 kilometres northwest of Amos, Quebec. RNC has a strong management team and Board with over 100 years of mining experience in the nickel business at Inco and Falconbridge. The Corporation's common shares and warrants trade on the TSX under the symbols RNX and RNX.WT.
Cautionary Statement Concerning Forward-Looking Statements
This news release contains "forward-looking information" including without limitation statements relating to mineral reserve estimates, mineral resource estimates, realization of mineral reserve and resource estimates, capital and operating cost estimates, the timing and amount of future production, costs of production, success of mining operations, the ranking of the project in terms of cash cost and production, permitting, economic return estimates and potential upside. Readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements.
Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the Corporation to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. The pre-feasibility study results are estimates only, are preliminary in nature and are based on a number of assumptions, any of which, if incorrect, could materially change the projected outcome. Until a positive feasibility study has been completed, and even with the completion of a positive feasibility study, there are no assurances that Dumont will be placed into production. Factors that could affect the outcome include, among others: the actual results of development activities; project delays; inability to raise the funds necessary to complete development; general business, economic, competitive, political and social uncertainties; future prices of metals; availability of alternative nickel sources or substitutes; actual nickel recovery; conclusions of economic evaluations; changes in project parameters as plans continue to be refined; accidents, labour disputes and other risks of the mining industry; political instability, terrorism, insurrection or war; delays in obtaining governmental approvals, necessary permitting or in the completion of development or construction activities. For a more detailed discussion of such risks and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements, refer to RNC's filings with Canadian securities regulators available on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.
Although the Corporation has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual actions, events or results to differ materially from those described in forward-looking statements, there may be other factors that cause actions, events or results to differ from those anticipated, estimated or intended. Forward-looking statements contained herein are made as of the date of this news release and the Corporation disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or results or otherwise, except as required by applicable securities laws
1 Based on $9.00 per pound long term nickel price and CDN$1.00 = US$0.90 exchange rate. NPV and IRR calculated from start of construction, January 2014 and based on October 2011 real costs.
2 C1 cash costs are defined as the cash cost incurred at each processing stage, from mining through to recoverable nickel delivered to the market, net of by-product credits.
PDF with caption: "RNC Pre-feasibility Study Production Profile 1-Nov-2011". PDF available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2011/11/01/20111101_C9233_DOC_EN_5857.pdf
PDF with caption: "RNC Pre-feasibility Study Site Layout 1-Nov-2011". PDF available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2011/11/01/20111101_C9233_DOC_EN_5858.pdf
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