Latest issue of International Mining Project News available (December 18): Big news this issue comes from the joint Ivanhoe Mines-Rio Tinto Oyu Tolgoi project in Mongolia where a conditional $758 million budget for 2010 has been approved to begin construction of the copper/gold mining complex. First Quantum Minerals has entered into a binding agreement with BHP Billiton to acquire the Ravensthorpe nickel operation in Western Australia for $340 million. And, Mirabela Nickel has successfully completed commissioning of the Santa Rita plant in Brazil. On Oyu Tolgoi, Ivanhoe President and CEO John Macken said “The approval of the 2010 construction budget represents the next big step toward bringing this project into production. Ivanhoe is considering a schedule that could see construction of the initial open-pit mine completed in 2012 and commercial production begin in 2013.”Work in 2010 is planned to include:Resumption of the sinking of the 10 m-diameter Shaft #2, which will be used to hoist ore to the surface from the deep, underground, copper-gold-rich Hugo Dummett depositConstruction of a 97 m-tall, reinforced-concrete headframe for Shaft #2Pouring the concrete foundation for the 100,000 t/d concentrator and deliveries of building materials for the concentrator and infrastructureInstallation of a 20 MW power station and 35 kV distribution systemInitial earthworks for the open-pit mine at the Southern Oyu depositsContinuation of lateral underground development off Shaft #1 at the Hugo Dummett depositConstruction of a 105 km highway link to the Mongolia-China border, which will be fully paved by the time production beginsConstruction of a regional airport, with a concrete runway to accommodate Boeing 737-sized aircraft.At Ravensthorpe, First Quantum expects average annual production of nickel metal will be about 39,000 t for the first five years after recommencement of operations and an average annual production of 28,000 t of nickel metal over the expected mine life of 32 years. Ravensthorpe’s development was completed in 2007 however; operations were suspended in January 2009 after the LME nickel price dropped to as low as $8,810/t in late 2008. Mirabela Nickel’s Santa Rita nickel project in Brazil has had all mechanical and electrical components run to the current installed nameplate capacity of 4.6 Mt/y. The operations team is now progressing the ramp up and optimisation of both the plant and the mining operations. The operation is on track to reach its interim target of 4.6 Mt of ore, on an annualised basis, during the second quarter of 2010.In Chile, Barrick Gold may decide to construct its Cerro Casale copper and gold project next year with a total investment of $3,500 million, MinerAndina.com reports. Barrick has just finalised the project’s basic engineering/feasibility study and could potentially reach a production rate of 800,000 oz/y of gold and 220 Mlb pounds of copper.In Canada, Victory Nickel has the results of the definitive feasibility study (DFS) on the 100%-owned Minago sulphide nickel deposit in Manitoba. The DFS confirms that the development of an open-pit mine and concentrator at Minago is technically and commercially feasible. And, De Beers Canada has started a production ramp-up at the Snap Lake mine that will see the mine reach full production levels by the end of 2012. It has also started a new training initiative with educational partners that will enable Northwest Territories residents to be trained and certified to a nationally recognised standard in underground mining.There are also reports from Inmet Mining on its Cobre Panamá copper project in Panama, European Nickel on its Çaldag project in Turkey and BC Iron on its Nullagine joint venture iron ore project in the Pilbara of Western Australia, as well as many more. To receive the full 35+ page report, subscriptions to this service can be registered and paid for on-line (SUBSCRIBE TO IM PROJECT NEWS BUTTON), or contact [email protected] for a free trial copy.