Minara's Murrin Murrin nickel cobalt operation is located between Leonora and Laverton in the north eastern Goldfields of Western Australia. Wholly owned by Glencore, Minara Resources is one of Australia's top nickel producers.
Operations commenced in 1999 and are based on the mining and processing of laterite ore. Nickel laterite mineralisation is a geological term used to describe the concentration of nickel and cobalt in silicate minerals, most often clays, due to extensive weathering of olivine rich ultramafic rocks. Approximately 75% of the world's nickel is contained in laterites.
Conventional open pit mining techniques are used, followed by ore processing comprising pressure acid leaching, mixed sulphide precipitation, cobalt refining and nickel refining. The production process also produces ammonium sulphate as a by-product.
Through its research and development program, Minara has used technological improvements and engineering solutions to improve plant reliability and throughput and to increase nickel and cobalt production levels. This includes Minara's research into heap leaching technology which offers the opportunity to exploit low grade ores in a cost effective manner.