Pacific Nickel Mines reaches two shipments per month milestone from Kolosori project

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By Imelda Cotton - 
Pacific Nickel ASX PNM Kolosori shipments

Pacific Nickel Mines (ASX: PNM) has achieved a throughput of two shipments per month from mining operations at the Kolosori nickel project in the Solomon Islands.

The 60,000-tonne bulk carrier MV Servette departed from the site on 26 May, and the MV Eaubonne arrived on 5 June, with loading now in progress.

They will carry a combined total of 120,000t of ore.

A third vessel, coordinated with global miner and project financier Glencore International, is scheduled to arrive next week.

Ore production focus

The two companies have worked together since the start of Kolosori production in December, with the current focus being on increasing ore production and lowering site unit operating costs.

Heavier than expected rainfall since March has been cited as a severe impediment to reaching the required production rate.

Improved production rates are expected as the region moves away from the wet season.

Pacific Nickel is nearing completion of a full production ramp-up at Kolosori to 1.5Mtpa, equivalent to three ships per month during the dry season.

Additional articulated dump trucks have been sourced from mining contractor HBS Machinery to facilitate the ramp-up and are expected to arrive at the site in July and August.

Stockpile expansion

Pacific Nickel has also been expanding the stockpile area at the mine to accommodate approximately 180,000t of ore.

The expansion is due for completion by the end of July, enabling nameplate production to start in August.

An average grade of approximately 1.7% nickel is anticipated over the next nine months from a Block 11 grade control model, which is in line with the resource model used for the Kolosori feasibility study.

Meeting expectations

Newly-appointed chief operating officer Willem Dique said the onsite team was working hard to meet expectations.

“Our team is making great progress on improving mining operations and production efficiencies, most notably in reducing wet weather recovery time and increasing ore hauling average speeds,” he said.

“At this stage we have two shipments planned for June and July and a third in August.”

“Once we receive the new dump trucks, we will be well-positioned for the life of mine operation.”

Mr Dique said the team had been working “very closely” with Glencore and local stakeholders to ensure that Kolosori delivers at the earliest opportunity.

Loan facility

Pacific Nickel achieved a major milestone for Kolosori in April 2023, when it secured a US$22 million loan facility from Glencore.

The loan was designed to meet pre-production funding requirements and includes a six-year agreement for Glencore to receive offtake shipments on a take-or-pay basis.

The loan has a three-year repayment term starting from the first shipment, with no repayments required during the wet season.