A two stage nickel development in Eastern Africa may be started by IMX Resources.

The capital cost of the first stage of the project is estimated to be US$230 million. The Australian iron ore miner’s MD, Neil Meadows, was talking at the third day of the 2013 Paydirt Africa Down Under conference held in Perth, Australia.

Meadows said the nickel contained in the estimated resource at the wholly owned Ntaka Hill prospect in Tanzania would support project development at forecast long-term nickel prices.

“While we are continuing with testwork and further drilling to increase near-surface mineral resources at Ntaka Hill, our focus is to understand the extent of disseminated mineralised halos around existing delineated resources and confirm that those resources are able to be exploited using conventional mining techniques with significantly reduced mining strip ratios.”

Ntaka Hill’s nickel recovery rates confirmed to date are almost 80%, putting them at the high end of the ranges of existing nickel mines. “The flowsheet is simple and robust and that points for us to a smaller, higher grade starter operation to fund eventual development of a larger, medium grade Tanzanian nickel mine,” he said.

Ntaka Hill – part of the company’s 7 000 km² Nachinwea project – has JORC Measured and Indicated resources of almost 120 000 tonnes of contained nickel as well as an Inferred resource of 238 000 tonnes of nickel at an average grade of 0.66%, a substantial increase on the grade of the previous Inferred resource estimation.

IMX is supporting the exploration and development of the Tanzanian nickel project from proceeds from its Cairn Hill iron ore mining operations in northern South Australia.

“We see Tanzania as a bit of a sleeping giant as its historic agricultural focused economy is now being driven by tourism and gold production with huge base and precious metals development potential. Importantly, export infrastructure in southern Tanzania is improving, driven in part by the massive development of multiple offshore gas fields near Mtwara. For pending new miners such as IMX, it also has a globally competitive and tax and regulatory regime and that further favours our move to an early nickel start-up,” concluded Meadows.

Paydirt 2013 Africa Down Under Conference is Australia’s largest mining conference, and kicked off on Wednesday, in Perth, Australia. A showcase for the $40 billion investment to date by Australian mining companies, explorers and suppliers, in co-developing Africa’s vast mineral wealth and its mining industry – and largest gathering in the world of Federal and African resources ministers and business heads outside of the African continent – the three day conference runs over two hotel venues in the Perth CBD.

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