US private equity firm Black Mountain announced on Thursday that it would buy the Lanfranchi nickel mine, near Kambalda, Western Australia, as it seeks to tap into the growing battery minerals market.
The company will buy the idled Lanfranchi mine from Panoramic Resources for A$15.1-million in cash, strengthening the ASX-listed company’s balance sheet and placing plans to restart its Savannah nickel/copper/cobalt project on a sound footing.
The Lanfranchi mine operated for ten years before it was placed on care and maintenance in August 2015, and the new owner is keen to return it to production.
“We have conducted due diligence on the project and we’re confident of returning it to production,” Black Mountain CEO Rhett Bennett said in a statement.
The Lanfranchi project has a mineral resource of about 5.65-million tonnes at an average grade of 1.69% nickel for 95 500 t of nickel contained. The Lower Schmitz deposit is of particular significance, containing a resource of 131 000 t at 5.1% nickel for 6 700 t of nickel contained.
Lanfranchi produced about 11 000 t of nickel a year over the life of the project.
“The execution of the sale and purchase agreement is a further demonstration of our commitment to the sector and to Western Australia. The high-growth electric vehicle market is having a direct impact on demand for nickel and our acquisition of Lanfranchi provides us with an exciting opportunity to meet that demand,” Bennett said.
Nickel sulphides are an integral component of battery cells used in the manufacture of electric vehicles.
Analysts are forecasting a market deficit for nickel in the next three years.