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Opening of new mine marks start of a new era for historic nickel industry

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Opening of new mine marks start of a new era for historic nickel industry

WA’s Mines Minister Bill Johnston will officially start a new nickel mine at Kambalda today, more than 50 years after the metropolis was placed on the map by the invention of Australia’s first nickel mine.

Key system:

  • Media and analysts will tour the Cassini nickel mine near Kambalda as part of its official opening today
  • Nickel is traditionally ragged in stainless-metal however is also a key ingredient in lithium-ion batteries for electric automobiles
  • Kambalda has now not had any nickel mining since the historic Prolonged mine closed in 2018

The Cassini underground mine is Kambalda’s first new nickel pattern in two decades — since the Miitel mine began manufacturing within the year 2000.

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More than 200 jobs have been created since September’s resolution by Perth-based miner Mincor Sources to green light its $98 million restart plan for Kambalda’s as soon as-booming nickel industry.

The funding resolution was long-awaited after a decade-future of low nickel costs saw Mincor shut its Miitel and Mariners mines in 2016.

Mincor’s managing director David Southam, who took the helm two years ago, said he believed the restart will signify a “third wave” of prosperity for Kambalda.

“To offer you some point of view, the nickel tag today is nearly thrice larger than when Mincor shut down its mines,” Mr Southam said.

“There was always a strategy to advance back on-line sooner or later as soon as the market stipulations had improved.” 

Mincor Resources managing director David Southham speaking at a podium in front of blue metal beams at Diggers and Dealers 2020

Mincor Sources managing director David Southam speaking at last year’s Diggers and Diggers Mining Forum in Kalgoorlie-Boulder. (

ABC Goldfields-Esperance: Jarrod Lucas

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Metropolis built on 1960s nickel development

Australia’s first nickel development was sparked by the metal’s discovery at Kambalda in 1966, when global demand was on the rise as a result of Vietnam War and nickel’s traditional expend in stainless-metal markets.

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The discovery was became into the Silver Lake mine – the first of 23 nickel mines at Kambalda which data reveal have produced a blended 1.67 million tonnes of nickel within the past 55 years.

Cassini is the 24th and in a nod to Kambalda’s rich past, the underground access portal is being named in honour of one of Australia’s most famous geologists, Dr Roy Woodall, who died last month at age 90.

“We’re naming the Cassini decline the Woodall decline,” Mr Southam said.

“There is absolute self assurance he is the original ‘King of Kambalda’.

“He had a examine about the rocks within the area, purchased a minimal amount of funding to drill it and the leisure is historical past.”

Veteran mines are new again

Kambalda’s greatest-producing mine was Otter Juan, which was in near-continuous operation from 1970 until its closure in 2014.

Otter Juan produced 317,500 tonnes of nickel – almost one-fifth of all the nickel to advance out of the area.

The Prolonged mine, which opened in 1979 and closed in 2018, produced 212,000 tonnes of nickel.

But what was thought to be aged is now new again, with the infrastructure at Otter Juan and Prolonged station to play key roles within the restart at Kambalda.

Mincor is chasing nickel at what is legendary as the Durkin North deposit, most attention-grabbing 1.2 kilometres from the underground infrastructure at Prolonged.

But Mr Southam is clearly most exasperated by the potential at Cassini, where miners are at explain working about 100 metres below the surface.

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The company expects to hit first nickel in August when mining reaches a vertical depth of about 300 metres below the surface.

Cassini is expected to operate for five years initially, however Mr Southam expects the mine reserves to increase significantly as soon as exploration drilling can initiate from underground.

“What is bright about Cassini is the fact here is a brand new mine, a greenfields discovery which has now not happened in more than 20 years at Kambalda,” Mr Southam said.

“As soon as you contemplate at the historical past, fairly grand each Kambalda deposit has doubled or tripled in dimension, so that you can make your bear judgement whenever you scamper on historical past and statistics.

“It may scamper on for 20 years.”

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Opening of new mine marks start of a new era for historic nickel industry