The Santa Rita project is a past producing, restart-ready and fully permitted nickel-copper-cobalt sulphide operation in Brazil

CASE STUDY

The Santa Rita open pit nickel-cobalt sulphide operation is a fully permitted, restart ready, past-producing nickel mine with US$1bn of sunk capital spent. One of the largest open pit nickel sulphide mines in the world, the Santa Rita mine was operated by Mirabela Nickel Ltd. for 6 years, prior to being placed on care and maintenance due to the low nickel price environment in 2015. The operation is located in northeastern Brazil with an estimated annual production capacity of 16.5ktpa of nickel in sulphide concentrate. Supported by local communities and government, the low restart cost positions the mine within the first decile of the nickel incentive pricing curve.

Appian acquired the Santa Rita nickel operation through the bankruptcy process of the mine’s previous operators, Mirabela Nickel Ltd. Due to the restructuring of a loan and the subsequent depression of nickel prices in 2014/15 the operation was unable to generate sufficient cash flow and raise new sources of funding, resulting in Mirabela Nickel declaring bankruptcy and the operations being placed into care and maintenance. For the past three years, the bondholders have acted as receivers and managers of the operation, upkeeping the mine and associated infrastructure to ensure it remained restart ready. In 2017, the receivers determined that the sale of the Santa Rita mine was the optimal path forward to recover value for its creditors.

Through a 6-month due diligence process, Appian has developed a differential view on the asset, delivering a low-cost, high potential operation able to capitalize on attractive nickel and cobalt pricing dynamics. Having identified numerous mine and plant optimisation opportunities, Appian plans to restart the operation and deliver robust returns to investors.

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