First Quantum Minerals Ltd. has shuttered its Ravensthorpe nickel plant following a sulfuric acid spill over the weekend; no injuries were reported and the discharge has been contained. The Western Australian mine has an annual capacity of 38,000 tons.
The leak originated after a tank rupture released an unknown amount of leaching slurry late Sunday, said Dave Coggin, a spokesman for the Canadian miner; he declined to say whether a force majeure would be invoked, and restart is pending an investigation.
“The spill has been contained within the protective bonded area,” Coggin said, adding, “no adverse environmental effects are anticipated;” the acid is produced on-site.
First Quantum acquired the Ravensthorpe from BHP Billiton plc in 2009 and restarted the operation two years later after rehabilitation. Raw nickel produced at the project is largely shipped to Chinese and Indian refineries.