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.
For export of nickel concentrate to China, Western Areas uses sealed half-height containers which are filled at the Forrestania processing plant, loaded onto ships at Esperance Port and unloaded at Xingang Port in China. The product is then destuffed from and railed to Jinchuan’s smelter in Gansu Province in central China. The use of sealed containers represents the highest possible environmental standards, increases handling efficiencies and reduces the potential for costly demurrage delays.
Western Areas efforts in introducing and establishing this ground breaking export method were in part what led to the Company receiving the Western Australian ‘Emerging Exporter Award’ for 2011 and the 'Minerals and Energy Export' and prestigious "Premier's Export' awards for 2012.
The short term Jinchuan sales contract leaves the Company with significant amounts of uncommitted product beyond 2016. This availability is expected to coincide with significant global shortages of quality nickel sulphide product, leaving the Company with flexibility and in a strong position to negotiate future sales agreements.