Mining Intelligence and News
Colombia

Cerro Matoso Mine

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Overview

Mine TypeOpen Pit
StatusActive
Commodities
  • Nickel
Mining Method
  • Truck & Shovel / Loader
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SnapshotCerro Matoso is an integrated nickel laterite mine and smelter. Cerro Matoso is a major producer of nickel contained in ferronickel which is used to make stainless steel.

South32 commissioned the Ore Sorting and Mechanical Ore Concentration (OSMOC) project in FY23, which will partly offset natural nickel grade decline and underpinned a 15-year extension to Cerro Matoso’s mining contract from 2029 to 2044.

Owners

SourceSource
CompanyInterestOwnershipInvestor's Info
South32 Ltd. 99.9 % Indirect
Cerro Matoso S.A. (operator) 100 % Direct
South32 owns 99.9 per cent of Cerro Matoso. Current and former employees own 0.02 per cent, with the balance of shares held in a reserve account following a buy-back.

Deposit type

  • Laterite
  • Saprolite

Summary:

The Cerro Matoso deposit is located to the south of Cordoba and north of Antioquia provinces, where three peridotite bodies are present in a north-south orientation, referred to as the Cerro Matoso nickel belt. The peridotites are associated with a Cretaceous ophiolite complex, located along the northern extension of the regional NNE–SSW-oriented Cauca-Romeral fault system. Tertiary age argillaceous sediments with local coal horizons surround the peridotites.

The peridotites are present in the following areas:
- Cerro Matoso mine area, comprising the current mine and possible extensions below sedimentary cover;
- Planeta Rica License area, located 40 km north of Cerro Matoso mine; and
- Uré License area, located 15 km south of Cerro Matoso mine.

The local geological setting of Cerro Matoso is characterised by a complex set of rock types that have been grouped into a number of major rock sets.

This geological basis for the rock type grouping is critical, as the local laterite profile is characterised not only by the evolutionary products of a typical tropical laterite weathering profile, but by several unique lithologies that also occur, including tachylite and very dark (black) saprolite units.

The resulting vertical layering is based on common physical and chemical features and from top to bottom consists of four zones – a sedimentary cover, a limonitic zone, a saprolitic zone and fresh peridotite bedrock.

The principal mineralisation types consist of Saprolite containing Serpentine and Ni-bearing Smectite as well as Ni bearing Goethite. The bulk of mineralisation at Cerro Matoso is found in the low MgO green Saprolite. Mineralisation is also present in high MgO green Saprolite, black Saprolite, brown Saprolite and Saprolitised Peridotite. Other lithologies have lesser amounts of mineralisation.

Mineralisation in the form of fracture filling garnierite (with locally very high Ni grades) is also present in veins in the lower lithologies of the profile such as in green Saprolite and Saprolitised Peridotite.

In the upper levels of the weathering profile the basement structures have not played a major part in the mineralisation controls with the sub horizontal weathering being dominant. Recent bench mapping has defined the rock types in the exposed faces and floors resulting in a detailed picture of the influence of the structures on the weathering and rock type. These structures are significant as they are capable of extending partially weathered Ni mineralisation up to 100 m or more below the current pit floor bedrock where present. The reduced influence of weathering and the increased influence of the structure on the rock type variability at the current pit floor is a major factor in the reconciliation issues experienced in recent years.

Reserves

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Mining Methods

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Comminution

Crushers and Mills

Milling equipment has not been reported.

Processing

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Production

CommodityUnits2024202320222021202020192018201720162015
Nickel kt  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe4144363740
All production numbers are expressed as payable metal. ^ Guidance / Forecast.

Operational metrics

Metrics2024202320222021202020192018201720162015
Tonnes processed  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe2,738 kdmt2,722 kdmt2,561 kdmt2,699 kdmt2,629 kdmt
Ore tonnes mined  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe2,278 kwmt3,741 kwmt4,447 kwmt6,009 kwmt6,321 kwmt
Annual processing capacity  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe3 Mt
^ Guidance / Forecast.

Production Costs

CommodityUnits20242023202220212020201920182017
Cash costs (sold) Nickel USD  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe 3.99 / lb   3.67 / lb   3.77 / lb  
^ Guidance / Forecast.

Operating Costs

Currency20222021202020192018
Total operating costs ($/t milled) USD 148  124  120  132  129  

Financials

Units20242023202220212020201920182017
Capital expenditures (planned) M USD  ....  Subscribe
Growth Capital M USD  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe
Sustaining costs M USD  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe 32   22   14  
Capital expenditures M USD  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe
Revenue M USD  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe 489   559   377  
EBIT M USD  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe 40   120   -16  
EBITDA M USD  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe 127   209   74  

Heavy Mobile Equipment

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Personnel

Mine Management

Job TitleNamePhoneEmailProfileRef. Date
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EmployeesContractorsTotal WorkforceYear
...... Subscription required 2023
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Aerial view:

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