RNC Minerals has announced results from an updated feasibility study of the Dumont nickel-cobalt project in the Abitibi region of Quebec. The study assumes initial production of 33,000 metric tons per year (mt/y) of nickel in concentrate, ramping up to 50,000 mt/y in a Phase II expansion. Life-of-mine production over a 30-year mine life is estimated at about 1.2 million mt of nickel in concentrate.

Initial capital expenditures to develop the project are estimated at $1 billion.

RNC President and CEO Mark Selby said, “The achievement of this major milestone once again confirms the robust economics of the Dumont nickel-cobalt project. Once in production, Dumont will be one of the largest base-metal mines in Canada, one of the top five sulphide nickel producers globally, and one of the only large-scale, fully permitted nickel-cobalt projects that can begin to satisfy the significant growth in nickel and cobalt demand driven by the electric vehicle sector.

“With the completion of this positive feasibility study, RNC, with our partner Waterton, is well-positioned to accelerate discussions with potential partners to advance the Dumont project toward construction.”

Dumont will be an open-pit mining operation, using conventional drilling and blasting, with loading by a combination of hydraulic excavators and electric rope shovels into trucks ranging in capacity from 45 mt to 290 mt.

The process plant will be constructed in two phases. Phase I will have an initial average throughput of 52,500 mt/d using a single SAG mill and two ball mills for grinding, desliming using cyclones, conventional flotation, and magnetic separation to produce a nickel concentrate that will also contain cobalt, palladium, and platinum. Phase II throughput will be doubled to 105,000 mt/d in the seventh year of operation by mirroring the first line.

The Dumont project’s proven and probable reserves total a little more than 1 million mt at grades of 0.27% nickel, 107 ppm cobalt, 0.019 grams (g)/mt palladium, and 0.009 g/mt platinum.

Improvements incorporated into the updated Dumont feasibility study, as compared to the previous 2013 feasibility study, include an increase in electrification of the mine by incorporating trolley assist on the main ramps. This will reduce cycle times and reduce diesel consumption by more than 35%. Also, the new study includes concentrate roasting and conversion to ferronickel as the route to market for the nickel concentrate.

The updated Dumont feasibility study was led by Ausenco, with participation by SRK Consulting (resource model and geotechnical), David Penswick (mine design and financial modeling), WSP Global (environmental), Golder Associates (environmental geochemistry), Wood PLC (tailings design, site water balance, and closure planning), and Norascon (civil and earthworks).