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Although Xstrata has permanently closed its Prospero nickel mine in Western Australia, it appears its other nickel mine in the state, Cosmos, may have a chance of a new life when nickel prices improve into the future, as it has only been placed under care and maintenance for the immediate future.

Prospero Owner Xstrata to Merge With Glencore

Prospero mine owner, Xstrata, has also been involved in a long drawn out merger with Swiss commodity group Glencore. An event likely to take place in April 2013. Xstrata is the fifth largest minings and metal group in the world and Glencore the worlds largest thermal coal and metals trader. Although this merger will make for one of the world most powerful mining groups it will be unlikely if the Prospero Mine will ever be restarted.

Jubilee NL Discovered the Prospero Orebody

The Prospero underground nickel mine was originally developed by Jubilee mines in 2005. Jubilee was already mining nickel at their Cosmos mine just 4.5 kilometres to its south. The feasibility study into the economic viability of the project was completed late in 2005 with development work commencing soon after. The inferred resource at the time stood at one million tonnes grading at 5.72 percent nickel.

Initial Development at the Prospero Mine Cost $1.7 Million

Mining development at the Prospero Project began with the excavation of a box -cut two kilometres north west of the Prospero nickel deposit. The box-cut was constructed to provide access from the surface to the Prospero underground decline. This part of the development took two months to build at a cost of $1.7 million. The mine became fully functional in 2007 on the completion of the box-cut excavation and decline along with all the necessary infrastructure.

Prospero Ore Benefitted Cosmos Production

The original owner and developer of the Prospero nickel mine in Western Australia, Jubilee, was an exploration company that discovered the nearby Cosmos ore body in 1997. This mine was operated as an open pit by Xstrata in 1999 and produced its first nickel concentrate in 2000. Ore mined at the Prospero underground mine was processed at the Cosmos operation by means of a conventional floatation plant that upgraded the ore to 20 percent nickel concentrate. The introduction of the ore from the Prospero Mine, when it came on line, increased the processing plant output at Cosmos by 54 percent to 347,665 tonnes. Increased mining at the Prospero Mine in 2010 saw this figure climb again to 383,293 tonnes. Mining at the Prospero underground mine followed a decline and longhole open stoping method.

Falling Nickel Prices Finished the Prospero Mine

The earlier than planned demise of the Prospero underground mine was brought about by the ongoing decline in nickel prices. The mine had basically served its purpose by considerably increasing the output of the Cosmos operation but as this became more and more uneconomical it became prudent to actually close the Prospero Mine down permanently and place the rest of the company's operations at Cosmos on care and maintenance until the economic climate for nickel improved.

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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