Horizonte Minerals Plc HZMHZM, a nickel company developing two Tier 1 assets in Brazil, is pleased to announce it has awarded Wood Plc ("Wood") the principal engineering contract to undertake the Feasibility Study ("FS") for Horizonte's 100%-owned Vermelho Nickel-Cobalt Project ("Vermelho" or "the Project").
Vermelho is a large high-grade, long mine life, scalable resource, designed to be a low-cost producer of nickel and cobalt for the battery industry. The Vermelho FS contract award is another key milestone for Horizonte as it advances towards its long-term objective of becoming a 60,000 tonne per year nickel producer, following the start of construction at Araguaia, its ferro-nickel project, early this year which is on schedule to produce first nickel in Q1 2024.
- Vermelho is designed to produce 25,000 tonnes of nickel and 1,250 tonnes of cobalt per year over a 38-year mine life;
- The Pre-Feasibility Study (dated October 2019) estimated a NPV₈ of US$3.4Bn and a post-tax IRR of 38.6% with net cash flows of US$12.9Bn using a nickel price of US$23,000 per tonne;
- Wood is a global leader in project delivery, engineering and technical services with experience across a number of the major high pressure leach nickel operations globally;
- The FS cost estimate will be completed to AACEI Class 3 standard;
- Additional contracts that are in the final stages of being awarded include pilot test work, mining, hydrogeology, hydrology, infrastructure and logistics packages; and,
- Environmental licencing for Vermelho is well advanced, with key regulatory submissions, forming the basis for the construction licence issuance, expected to be made prior to year-end.
Jeremy Martin, CEO of Horizonte Minerals, commented:
"We are pleased to be working with Wood plc to deliver the Feasibility Study for the Vermelho Project. The commencement of the FS is an important step forward in unlocking Vermelho's significant value. There are very few nickel resources of this scale and quality at an advanced stage of development, leaving Vermelho well positioned to capitalise on the growing demand for sustainable critical metals.
"Vermelho is located in the Carajás mining district, an area that features well-developed infrastructure, and hydroelectric power. The Project is designed to produce nickel in intermediate or refined form and will be a globally significant, non-conflict, ethical source of cobalt.
"Araguaia and Vermelho have a combined inventory of over four million tonnes of nickel. By leveraging the synergies of these two world-class projects, located within trucking distance of each other in a stable and pro mining jurisdiction, Horizonte is well positioned to deliver its growth target of producing 60,000 tonnes of nickel per year, placing the Company amongst the global leaders in primary nickel production outside Indonesia."
Wood is a global leader in project delivery, engineering and technical services, providing efficient, integrated solutions across the asset life cycle in multiple sectors. They have extensive experience in the nickel industry having worked on a number of the key nickel high pressure leach operations globally. The company is recognised in the industry as a leading hydrometallurgical group, delivering smart, high value outcomes for its clients worldwide.
Wood (formerly GRD Minproc), who undertook a successful Vermelho FS for Vale between 2003 - 2006, already has a detailed understanding of the Project, enabling them to leverage this existing knowledge during the process of producing this updated FS for Horizonte.
Wood will provide engineering to a sufficient level so as to support a cost estimate with an expected accuracy of - +/-15% for the Definitive FS phase in accordance with AACEI Class 3 estimate guidelines.
Environmental licencing for Vermelho is well advanced. Horizonte has received the Operating Licence allowing for the current exploration and drilling activities in the area and is nearing completion of the environmental and socioeconomic impact assessment ("ESIA", also known as "RIMA" in Brazil) for the Project. The ESIA/RIMA will be complemented with further detailed environmental technical studies to support the FS. Tenders for these activities have been completed and award of these feasibility studies support contracts are expected to be made in the near future.
About the Vermelho Nickel-Cobalt project
The Group owns 100% of Vermelho, a high-grade, long mine life, scalable resource, which is located in the Carajás Mining District in the Pará State, northeast Brazil. The area has well-developed infrastructure, including roads, rail, and hydroelectric power as a result of the sustained mining activities in Carajás.
The Vermelho Pre-FS comprises a planned open pit nickel laterite mining operation that covers a number of different pits. The hydro-metallurgical process incorporates a beneficiation plant where ore is upgraded prior to being fed to a centralised High-Pressure Acid Leach ("HPAL"). The Project will mine a 141.3 million tonne ("Mt") Probable Mineral Reserve to produce 924kt of nickel, 36kt of cobalt and 4.48 Mt of a saleable by-product, kieserite (a form of fertiliser) over an initially projected 38-year mine life. At full production capacity, the Project is expected to produce an average of 25,000 tonnes of nickel and 1,250 tonnes of cobalt per year, utilising the High-Pressure Acid Leach process.
Vermelho is set to deliver significant socio-economic benefits for communities in the Pará state, including over 1,800 direct jobs in the construction phase, and over 600 jobs during operation, as well as additional economic and social development programmes.