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The world's uncertain economical future following slow recovery from the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008 and the ongoing financial crisis in Europe and the United States, has led to the English/Swiss mining giant Xstrata shedding some of it more risky enterprises. This policy resulted in it placing its Western Australian nickel mine, Cosmos, under care and maintenance in September 2012.

The decision made by Xstrata meant 150 mining jobs, some permanent and some contractors, were lost at the Cosmos operation. Xstrata's nearby Sinclair operation was kept operating. A feasibility study, due to be finished in 2014, is being undertaken to evaluate the future of the deposits at Cosmos.rnXstrata took over the ownership of the Cosmos mine in April 2000, since that time it has mined almost three million tonnes of ore producing 127,000 tonnes of nickel concentrate. Before that the mine belonged to an exploration company Jubilee who discovered the ore-body there in 1997. Xstrata operated Cosmos as an open cut mine that produced a high grade nickel sulphide.

Five massive high grade nickel sulphide deposits have been located within close proximity to the Cosmos mine, these are; Tapinos, Prospero, Alec Mairs Complex, Cosmos Deeps and Cosmos itself.

Ore processing was carried out on site in the traditional manner with a nickel sulphide floatation plant that upgraded the concentrate to contain 20 percent nickel,delivering 12,000 tonnes of the product a year.

The mine was operated with a decline and longhole open stoping methods. The final results posted for 2010 reported total ore treated at the plant had increased by 10 percent to 383,293 tonnes. Much of this was due to the Prospero deposit.

Nothing will be known about the future of the Cosmos nickel mine until the completion of the feasibility study in 2014. In the meantime it will be kept under care and maintenance. As nickel prices have tended to continue their downward drift into 2013, a major turn around will no doubt have to occur to have Xstrata change their mind about restarting operations at Cosmos in the foreseeable future. Nickel prices have fallen from a high of $US29,000 a tonne to a current price of $US18,000 a tonne. Much of this has come about with an oversupply in the market along with the start up of many considerable nickel laterite operations keeping a cap on prices and preventing them from rising.

The former owner of Cosmos, Jubilee Mines NL, began underground mining at the site following the completion of the open pit. At that time the future production of the mine was estimated to be 150,000 tonnes a year. This amount of tonnage was expected to produce 50,000 tonnes of nickel in concentrate form over an estimated lifetime of three and a half years. The fact that it did produce12 years of economical mining means it carried out all the expectations placed on it and as proven reserves remain in the area, future mining at Cosmos will entirely depend on the world price of nickel.

Xstrata Nickel

Xstrata Nickel is the 4th largest nickel producer, with an annual production of nickel being around 106,000 tonnes. With operations in various countries but have mining projects in Western Australia including the Sinclair and Cosmos underground mines.


Xstrata Nickel
Level 3, 24 Outram Street
West Perth, WA 6005



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