Forrestania is Western Areas flagship asset. The Forrestania project consists of:
- Two of the highest grade operating nickel mines in the world, Flying Fox and Spotted Quoll
- The Cosmic Boy Concentrator, which treats the high grade ore and produces Nickel concentrate for sale
- A significant regional tenement package, considered highly prospective for further nickel discoveries; and
- Significant site infrastructure, including a 450 bed accommodation village, grid connected power, water management network, airstrip and nickel concentrate export facilities.
Based on 10 year production targets Forrestania is expected to produce an average of 25,000 tonnes of nickel in concentrate per annum.
Flying Fox is Western Areas first producing underground mine and remains one of the highest grade nickel mines in the world. Production commenced in 2006 and the underground mine now operates at depths of over 1km underground. Flying Fox is a low cash cost operation with nickel produced at under US$3 per pound. Production for FY16 is expected at just under 10,000 tonnes of nickel in ore.
The Flying Fox orebody extends from 250m to 1.2km below the surface and includes discrete independent orebodies with possible extensions at depth. The average FY16 reserve grade is just over 4.0% nickel with stoping predominately from the lower areas of the T5 orebody.
The primary stoping method used is ‘top-down’ long-hole stoping using paste-fill in order to attempt 100% recovery of the high grade orebody. In the narrower sections of the orebody both modified Avoca with unconsolidated and cemented rock-fill plus hand held air-leg techniques are used.
The original Flying Fox underground mine was owned and operated by the Finnish company Outokumpu from 1992 to 1997 and produced 0.24Mt @ 3.2% Ni from workings to a depth of 200m below surface. Outokumpu also operated two other nickel mines (Cosmic Boy and Diggers Rocks) from 1992 to 1999 and an associated nickel concentrator located adjacent to the Cosmic Boy mine.
Western Areas discovered the extensive mineralisation below the original underground mine after purchasing the tenement package.
Sales & Logistics
Western Areas currently delivers into two sales contracts, a long term contract with BHP Billiton for 10,000 tonnes per annum of nickel (lifting to 12,000) and a short term contract with Jinchuan of China running to late 2016. A significant amount of expected production is uncommitted beyond 2016.
Exports to China via Esperance Port utilise an award winning system of containerised shipping, with product remaining sealed in containers from the mine until arrival in China.
Spotted Quoll is Western Areas' second mine and was discovered in October 2007, as a result of Western Areas ongoing investment in regional and near mine exploration. Production commenced only 24 months later, in mid 2009.
Spotted Quoll rivals, and in cases, exceeds the nickel grades of Flying Fox, also making it one of the world’s highest grade nickel mines. Spotted Quoll is a low cash cost operation, with nickel produced under US$2 per pound. Production for FY16 is expected at around 13,000 tonnes of nickel in ore.
Production initially commenced from the Tim King open pit, which concluded as planned in February 2012 after producing around 27,000 tonnes of contained nickel.
The Spotted Quoll orebody is open at depth with the mine planned to just over 1km below the surface. The primary stoping method is a ‘top-down’ mining method using long-hole open stoping with paste fill. The narrower and shallower areas are mined using top-down narrow vein techniques also with paste fill with an average FY16 reserve grade of 3.6%. Based on current ore reserves, Spotted Quoll has a mine life exceeding 10 years.
Western Areas continues to invest in near mine and regional exploration in the Forrestania region.
Reserves & Resources
Western Areas Ore Reserve / Mineral Resource Statement
Effective date 31 March 2017
|1. Flying Fox Area||1,044,960||4.0||41,670||Probable||2012|
|2. Spotted Quoll||171,060||4.1||7,000||Proved||2012|
|3. Diggers Area|
|TOTAL ORE RESERVES||5,375,590||3.0||161,370|
|1. Flying Fox Area|
|OTZ Sth Massive Zone||20,560||4.1||843||Inferred||2012|
|OTZ Sth Massive Zone||162,338||4.0||6,574||Indicated||2012|
|T4 Massive Zone||191,535||5.5||10,580||Indicated||2012|
|T5 Massive Zone + Pegs||1,121,871||5.7||63,632||Indicated||2012|
|T6 Massive Zone||45,707||5.2||3,905||Indicated||2012|
|T7 Massive Zone||256,977||2.1||5,303||Inferred||2012|
|Total High Grade||2,072,265||4.9||102,365|
|T5 FF Disseminated Zone||197,200||0.8||1,590||Indicated||2004|
|T5 LL Disseminated Zone||4,428,000||0.8||36,000||Indicated||2004|
|Total Disseminated FF - LL||4,983,000||0.8||41,050|
|Total Flying Fox - Lounge Lizard||7,055,265||2.0||143,415|
|New Morning / Daybreak|
|Total New Morning / Daybreak||5,538,577||1.5||81,339|
|2.||Spotted Quoll Area||565,166||5.8||32,780||Measured||2012|
|Total Spotted Quoll||2,152,375||5.7||121,664|
|Total Western Belt||15,226,217||2.3||353,137|
|3. Cosmic Boy Area|
|Total Cosmic Boy Areas||375,900||2.4||8,950|
|4. Diggers Area|
|Diggers South - Core||3,000,000||1.5||44,700||Indicated||2004|
|Diggers South - Halo||4,800,000||0.7||35,600||Indicated||2004|
|Digger Rocks - Core||54,900||3.7||2,030||Indicated||2004|
|Digger Rocks - Core||172,300||1.1||1,850||Inferred||2004|
|Digger Rocks - Halo||1,441,000||0.7||10,350||Inferred||2004|
|Total Diggers Area||10,028,200||1.0||99,570|
|TOTAL FORRESTANIA MINERAL RESOURCES||25,630,317||1.8||461,657|
|5. Cosmos Area|
|Odysseus North - Disseminated||1,631,495||2.8||45,519||Indicated||2012|
|Odysseus North - Massive||48,043||11.6||5,563||Indicated||2012|
|Total Cosmos Area||9,860,562||2.4||240,353|
|6. Mt Goode Area|
|Total Mt Goode Area||52,935,000||0.6||326,943|
|TOTAL COSMOS MINERAL RESOURCES||62,795,562||0.9||567,296|
|TOTAL WESTERN AREAS MINERAL RESOURCES||88,425,879||1.2||1,028,953|
Cosmic Boy Concentrator
The Cosmic Boy Concentrator treats raw nickel bearing ore from the Forrestania project to produce a consistent nickel concentrate product, grading approximately 14% nickel. Concentrate produced from the Forrestania project is characterised by low impurities such as magnesium which makes it more desirable to smelters. Current capacity allows for the treatment of 600,000 tonnes per annum of ore, with the potential to expand to 1,000,000 tonnes per annum.
Western Areas has a consistent track record of meeting or exceeding production targets, whilst remaining Australia's lowest cost nickel producer.