Albidon’s Munali nickel project in Zambia, some 60 km from Lusaka, received its first revenue from the sale of Ni-Cu-Co-PGM concentrate to the Jinchuan Group in early October 2008. This is a significant step in Albidon’s transition from developer to producer.
Final completion of the construction contract on the project by GRD Minproc was achieved in September. Commissioning of the processing facility commenced midyear utilising mineralised waste initially. Mill throughput ramped up, towards the nameplate capacity of 75,000 tonnes a month, from 25,000 tonnes in July to 55,000 tonnes in August and 67,000 tonnes in September. Albidon completed the bankable feasibility study on the project in July 2006.
After Munali reaches its nameplate capacity of 900,000 tonnes a year the project will focus on its expansion target, which entails 1.2 million tonnes a year of ore mined from the Enterprise deposit and milled. This will generate more than 10,000 tonnes a year of nickel in a high quality Ni-Cu-Co-PGM concentrate. The expansion to 1.2 million tonnes a year is expected to be achieved in the first quarter of 2009. It will use the available capacity in the circuit, that being the flash flotation, and additional tanks.
The Kafue river crossing of the project’s dedicated 33 kV power line has occurred which now provides a more reliable power source to the operation. This is a major milestone as the reliability of the power supply from Zambian grid was disruptive to operations.
The Munali project area comprises the Enterprise deposit and a number of other lower grade nickel prospects in the Munali intrusion, the most advanced of which is the Voyager prospect along strike to the north of Enterprise, and there are also the Intrepid and Defiant prospects along the northern edge of the intrusion. The orebody at Munali is intrusion-style nickel mineralisation that lies along the boundary of a gabbroic footwall intrusion that plunges to the north, with an ultramafic hangingwall. It appears to be mainly low grade, about 1% nickel, with significant by-product credits that reduce the cash costs. Exploration drilling is ongoing, with the aim of expanding the nickel resource base in the Munali district.
Albidon, which believes east Africa could become a major nickel producer has other projects at an early exploration stage, such as the Songea nickel project in Tanzania and the Selebi-Phikwe Project in Botswana.