Presented by Equitas Resources TSXV:EQT | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | December 16, 2015
The massive Voisey’s Bay nickel deposit was auctioned off to the highest bidder in early 1996 for $4.3 billion. We show the events leading up to the nickel discovery in Part 1: The discovery.
We highlight the bidding war for the rights to the deposit in Part 2: The auction.
Voisey’s Bay today
The discovery at Voisey’s Bay was ultimately significant for three reasons:
The ore was rich in content. In fact, the famed Ovoid zone had an average grade of 2.8% nickel.
Much of the ore was near surface. This would help minimize extraction costs.
The deposit was close to tidewater. This reduced the costs associated with transporting ore to ships.
The Voisey’s Bay deposit is world class in terms of its grade and size. With 141 million tonnes of ore, the deposit has significant grades of nickel, copper and cobalt:
- 1.63% nickel
- 0.85% copper
- 0.09% cobalt
The resource is located in three main zones: Ovoid, Eastern Deeps and Reid Brook. The Ovoid represents less than 23% of the total tonnage but more than 42% of the metal in the deposit.
Mining and transporting the ore
The open pit mine at Voisey’s Bay, now owned by Vale NYE:VALE, has been in operation since 2005. Recently, underground mining was approved at the site as well.
- The ore from Voisey’s Bay is transported via the Umiak I—the world’s most powerful icebreaking cargo ship
- The Umiak I makes 12 trips a year
- The icebreaker rides over ice that can be 10 metres thick in places
- It has a 30,000-horsepower engine, which is large enough to drive an oil tanker 10 times its size
- The Umiak I can carry 30,000 tonnes of nickel-copper concentrate at once (worth $100 million per load)
The Newfoundland and Labrador government estimated that the Voisey’s Bay project will add approximately $20.7 billion to the province’s gross domestic product during the mine’s estimated 30-year lifespan. Will more of these mines be found in Labrador in the future?
A well-known exploration proverb states that “the best place to find a new mine is next to an old mine.” That’s why, in a research report by the Newfoundland and Labrador government on Voisey’s Bay, it is noted that “this area remains highly favourable for future exploration.”
And as Robert Friedland has said himself: “Creative people shouldn’t be punished for failure, because in the exploration process we are in the business of drilling dry holes. You can’t keep drilling where you’ve looked.”
Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.