WA threatens to rule nickel world

A potential $1 billion development of the nickel industry in Western Australia could make the State the world’s leading nickel producer within five years.

Western Australian Resources Development Minister Colin Barnett described Comet Resources NL’s recently unveiled plan for a joint venture with international mining giant Billiton Plc as a further vote of confidence in the WA nickel laterite industry.

“Development of Comet’s $700 million Ravens-thorpe project will be strengthened by involvement of Billiton and can only lead to further investment in WA’s resources sector,” Mr Barnett said.

The Minister said WA’s position as a leading supplier of nickel to world markets is destined to improve with estimates that the State would dominate world production within five years.

Comet plans to develop a nickel laterite mine at Bandalup Hill, some 35 kilometres east of Ravensthorpe and 160km west of Esperance.

The project is expected to produce an annual 35,000 tonnes of contained nickel and 1300t of contained cobalt as concentrate for shipment to QNI Pty Ltd’s Yabulu refinery near Townsville, Queensland for processing into metal. QNI is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Billiton.

Mr Barnett said the Department of Resources Development is working with Comet and other government agencies to address infrastructure planning issues for the project including the options for the provision of power.

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