Horizonte Minerals Plc, the nickel development company focussed in Brazil, is pleased to provide an update on the significant advancements the sustainability team has made towards the Installation Licence ('LI') submission for its 100% owned Araguaia Nickel Project which is being developed as the next major nickel project in Brazil.
- The award of the LI together with mining concessions would permit construction of the Project
- Increased sustainability team with experts from a range of fields, including specialists sourced from within the Pará State for fauna & flora campaigns
- Flora studies and programmes are being prioritised with a 25-day field work programme currently in progress
- Discussions held with Para's Federal University to look at options regarding the uses of slag product from Araguaia
- Socio-economic activities progressing positively – ongoing engagement with the local community and social, economic and resettlement specialists have visited the site
- Focused on managing water requirements in the most sustainable way possible – catchment scale hydrology and hydrogeology model being produced
Horizonte CEO, Jeremy Martin said, "Horizonte is taking the appropriate steps to ensure it builds a resilient long term nickel business and that it plays a positive wider role in the Araguaia region. By drawing on the experience and talent of our team, we are implementing quality procedures during this development stage of the Project to provide a strong operational platform as we move towards the construction stage. The community continues to demonstrate a strong interest in the Project's progress, which is perceived as a key social and economic driver in a region where the average wage is low.
"I look forward to providing an update on the further progressions towards the Installation Licence in due course."
About the Project and Sustainability Activities
Araguaia, which is 100% owned by Horizonte, is located on the eastern margin of the State of Pará, north-eastern Brazil, to the north of the town of Conceição do Araguaia (population of 46,206), south of the main Carajás Mining District. The Project has good regional infrastructure including a network of Federal highways and roads, with access to low tariff hydro-electric power.
The Company is focused on delivering a 14,500 tonnes per annum nickel operation and anticipates a life of mine of 28 years. With this in mind the objective of the sustainability programme is to lay the foundations for a robust, long-term nickel mine. Specifically, the team aims to integrate the Vale dos Sonhos deposit into the advanced permitting schedule; obtain the Installation Licence and progress all other permits/licences which enable the Company to commence construction.
The Brazilian mine permitting process with environmental agencies has three key stages:
1. The preliminary licence ('LP'), which confirms government approval for the viability of the project;
2. The LI, which permits the start of construction;
3. Finally the licence to operate (LO) awarded after construction is complete.
The LP for Araguaia was approved in May 2016 with consideration of the terms set out in the Company's Social & Environmental Impact Assessment, and conditions outlined by the State Environmental Agency. Once the LI is awarded in parallel with the mining concession, construction may start.
The Company is pleased to report that its safety track record during the Project's development to date, is good with no lost time hours.
In terms of its sustainability team, the Company has hired new specialists in environmental and social disciplines. They bring a wealth of experience to the Project, including involvement in both Vale's Onca Puma nickel mine and Anglo American's Barro Alto and Codemin nickel mine. Local interns from State training and university institutions have also commenced work at the Project.
Additionally, the team has been bolstered with regional experts from the Pará State, including fauna & flora specialists hired through the Emilio Goeldi Museum of Belém, a research institution linked to the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. The institution also plays an important educational role in the country through the dissemination of knowledge and research of regional flora and fauna.
An environmental team including biologists from Pará State are on site for a 25-day work programme to complement flora collections previously undertaken in the region. The flora team will also conduct the inventory for flora suppression required to commence mine and plant construction. New fauna inventories are expected to commence in June/July 2017.
In parallel the socio-economic team conducted numerous community presentations throughout 2017 in rural areas where the deposits are located.
Consultants have also met with Para's Federal University to commence studies on possible uses of Araguaia's slag product. Air and gas monitoring has been collated over a 12-month period.
Finally, a catchment-scale model has been created by Environmental Resources Management ('ERM') hydrology specialists in the United Kingdom in conjunction with Horizonte and ERM teams in Brazil. ERM is one of the leading independent environment and social consultants in the world and is highly experienced in preparing key environmental permits for mines in Brazil. This includes environmental impact assessments, environmental control plans and studies to support permits for large-scale projects. ERM supports the development and financing of hundreds of major projects around the globe every year and helps projects meet international environmental and social standards, including those of the IFC, the World Bank, Equator Principles, and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) amongst others.