- Horizonte has completed the integrated rotary kiln electric furnace ('RKEF') pilot plant campaign for its 100% owned Araguaia nickel project in Parà State, north-central Brazil, which produced high grade ferronickel on a continuous and sustained basis to commercial specification. The pilot plant, located at Morro Azul in the State of Minas Gerais, processed 160 wet tonnes of ore over an 11 day period, 24 hours per day. The bulk sample was representative of the ore which the Company anticipates to be processed during the first nine years of commercial operation at Araguaia.


· Pilot plant campaign confirmed production of high grade commercial ferronickel from representative Araguaia ore

· Drying and agglomeration produced excellent feed material for processing in the high temperature rotary kiln

· Good quality calcine continuously produced in the rotary kiln with very low dust generation and favourable pre-reduction levels of about 60% for iron oxide and 10% nickel oxide reduction

· Electric furnace smelting of the calcine produced high quality ferronickel over a target range of commercial nickel grades and at a nickel recovery over 93%; both ingot casting and nickel granulation of the Fe-Ni product was successfully demonstrated

· No critical flaws were identified in the process flow sheet

· Full range of technical data to be incorporated in full Feasibility Study for final commercial RKEF design due in 2016, together with the additional data from the recently acquired Glencore nickel project Horizonte chief executive Jeremy Martin said: "I am delighted that the pilot plant campaign has demonstrated the production of commercial grade ferronickel on a continuous and sustained basis. The pilot facility operated by our metallurgical consultants IGEO is one of the most comprehensive facilities globally, being able to offer the complete integrated RKEF flow sheet which simulates full commercial production. The plant operated over an 11 day period, 24 hours per day with two metal pours each day, treating the representative bulk sample that was transported down from the Project.

"It was possible to produce high grade ferronickel with the key equipment operating in stable condition. No critical flaws were identified and the ore performance exceeded our original expectations. All of the information generated during this test will now be utilised to finalise the commercial RKEF design in the Feasibility Study. It was also good to have senior personnel from equipment suppliers ThyssenKrupp and SMS Siemag attending the programme. "Our recently announced acquisition of the adjacent Glencore nickel project will also be integrated into the Feasibility Study. The ore type is very similar to Araguaia, with extensive metallurgical test work also completed. At this stage it is not envisaged that it will be necessary to run further pilot work on the combined project due to the high quality work completed by Xstrata / Glencore. I look forward to updating shareholders as we advance the combined projects through to Feasibility."

Story provided by