That’s according to a long-awaited scoping study for the deposit — one of the biggest recent nickel sulphide discoveries worldwide and the largest platinum group elements discovery in Australian history — which said it would cost between $1.6b and $2.3b to bring the project into production.
The study is the first step to defining development options for Gonneville, which is located around 70km north-east of Perth on Chalice-owned farmland.
The company believes it will be a critical asset during the energy transition, producing metals to go into decarbonisation technologies such as lithium-ion batteries, electric and hybrid vehicles, energy storage solutions, wind and solar power, and green hydrogen.
The study lays out a development plan which would include potential open-pit mining operations with associated processing facilities on site.
Potentially lucrative underground mining options are continuing to be investigated.
Chalice is considering two options: one to extract 15 million tonnes of ore a year, which would cost $1.6b to build, and the second to extract 30Mt a year at a cost of $2.3b. Both options are expected to pay for themselves within two years.
The larger mine could produce up to 470,000 ounces of palladium, platinum and gold per year, as well as 16,000 tonnes of nickel, 16,000 tonnes of copper and 1400 tonnes of cobalt over around 18 years.
Chalice is not targeting a final investment decision until late 2026 and does not expect production to start until early 2029.
The study also found the project would have “negligible impact” on the nearby Julimar State Forrest.
Chalice chief executive Alex Dorsch said Gonneville was expected to produce a significant quantity of “critical green metals”, making it the only major platinum group elements mine in Australia and one of the largest base metals producers.
“Importantly, the project also helps address the dominance which Russia, China, South Africa and Indonesia currently have on the supply of these critical metals,” Mr Dorsch said.
The study identified “substantial, long term socio-economic benefits”. Modelling by ACIL Allen shows the project will add more than $18b to WA’s gross state product (GSP) and more than $20b to Australia’s GDP over an 18-year modelled life.
It is forecast to generate 1200 jobs during peak construction and 500 during operations.
The study was supposed to be completed by the end of last year but was delayed when Chalice pushed the date back to factor in an upgraded mineral resource estimate.
The company in March revealed the size of Gonneville which sits at the end of the broader Julimar Complex, had increased about 50 per cent to 3 million tonnes of nickel equivalent and 30 million ounces of palladium equivalent.