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The Forrestania nickel operations. Image: Western Areas.

Western Areas has picked up production at the Forrestania operation in Western Australia due to the mining of higher grade nickel.

The company produced 4236 tonnes of nickel in ore mined at Forrestania during the March quarter, leading to a 20 per cent quarter-on-quarter increase.

Western Areas managing director Dan Lougher said the use of higher-grade areas at the Flying Fox mine and stronger grades at the Spotted Quoll mine led to the production increase.

“It’s pleasing to see the Forrestania operation deliver a significant uplift in performance, returning to a more normal level of operation,” he said.

“The re-establishment of higher grade areas at Flying Fox and higher grade reporting from Spotted Quoll resulted in a 20 per cent increase quarter on quarter for nickel in ore mined, producing our best results for the financial year to date.”

Lougher said the company was focussing on continuing the upwards trend into the final quarter of the 2021 financial year.

Western Areas has moved forward with its development of the Odysseus underground mine, completing 380 metres of decline development.

“At Odysseus, underground mine development has continued to progress well and in line with the plan,” Lougher said.

“Excellent development rates are being achieved with total advancement of 1.2 kilometres for the quarter.

“Another key milestone achieved during the quarter was completion of concrete foundation works for the shaft winder house that now allows for mechanical and electrical installations to commence.”

The Odysseus decline has been split into north and south tunnels used to access the two orebodies.

While the nickel price has softened from $10.31 per pound in the December quarter to $10.07 per pound in the March quarter, the company is confident that its long-term outlook is strong.

“Post the end of the quarter, the nickel price has been influenced by news flow relating to the potential for increased nickel supply from Indonesia,” Western Areas stated.

“Western Areas still firmly believes in the strong fundamental outlook for nickel as the electrification of passenger vehicles continues to gain momentum and battery powered vehicles market share increases.”