Mincor Resources has awarded underground mining services and equipment hire group Pit N Portal with the underground mining contract for its 100%-owned Kambalda nickel operations in Western Australia.
The contract encompasses a five-year pact for the new Cassini nickel mine, where early surface works were recently completed, and a three-year contract (plus one two-year option) at the Northern Operations (the brownfields Durkin North and Long nickel mines – both of which are on care and maintenance having previously operated). These two assets (Cassini and Northern Operations) make up the planned nickel operation.
Pit N Portal was awarded the contract following the completion of a competitive tender process and a due diligence process led by Mincor’s Chief Operating Officer, Dean Will, examining safety, Kambalda underground experience and performance, capabilities, equipment availability and cost, the company said.
All key components of the contract are in line with the parameters set out in the Nickel Restart Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) completed in March 2020. This was based on an initial five-year operation from two production centres with all ore processed at BHP Nickel West’s Kambalda nickel concentrator and the resulting nickel concentrate sold to BHP. The DFS envisaged 63,000 t of recovered nickel-in-concentrate output for an estimated pre-production capital expenditure of A$68 million ($41 million at the time).
Mincor has executed a binding contract with Pit N Portal subject to a Notice to Proceed being issued by Mincor before March 31, 2021.
The development company says it is targeting the commencement of mining operations at Kambalda in the second half of 2020, subject to board approval and a final investment decision on its Nickel restart plan. It said previously first nickel-in-concentrate production could be achieved in the second half of 2021, subject to COVID-19-related restrictions.
Established in Kalgoorlie in 2002, Pit N Portal has expanded its capacity and capability to encompass total, whole-of-mine solutions across Australia, and has significant underground mining contracts in Western Australia and Queensland. It was acquired by Emeco Holdings earlier this year.
Mincor’s Managing Director, David Southam, said the award of the contract to a Kalgoorlie-based business was consistent with the company’s commitment to maximise local content, to support local businesses and communities, and to create opportunities for a residential workforce wherever possible.
“We selected Pit N Portal based on a wide range of criteria including safety, performance, contract cost, experience and capability, ability to meet our mobilisation timelines and the size and quality of their contract fleet.
“Their equipment fleet suits our proposed style of mining and, as one of Australia’s largest hard-rock underground mining equipment solutions providers, we will have access to a large range of equipment options and high-class maintenance and rebuild capacity – giving us significant operational and strategic flexibility, which is important when operating a number of underground mines.
“This includes having access to the Emeco operating system, which could add significant value to future operations, as well as having a contracting partner that is willing to embrace the very latest in mining technology and data management and usage, including the proposed use of underground electric vehicles, which we have already trialled.”
Mincor has also completed – on time and budget – all works associated with the Early Works Contract at Cassini project. This work, carried out by Hampton Mining and Civil Services, included clearing of the Cassini site area, excavation of the box-cut (pictured), construction of the site office pad, magazine and waste areas and construction of the surface settling dams and haul road.