Horizonte Minerals PLC (LON:HZM) (TSE:HZM) could be one of the world’s largest independent nickel producers, Numis Securities believes, once both of its projects reach full development.

The Araguaia ferronickel project is targeting production in 2022, while the pre-feasibility study (PFS) results for the Vermelho nickel-cobalt project were published last week.

WATCH: Horizonte Minerals now a developer of two ‘world-class nickel assets’

The Vermelho PFS valued the asset, acquired by Brazilian multinational Vale, at US$1.7bn with an internal rate of return of 26%, based on full-production rates of 25,000 tonnes of nickel and 1,250 tonnes of cobalt annually.

Numis assigned Vermelho a US$410mln value, a 27-fold growth from the previous US$15mln estimate, adding that business partners will be “key” to boosting value.

The broker said Horizonte would benefit from a joint venture partner experienced in high-pressure acid leach extraction, while there is potential for strategic investments from a battery manufacturer – considering the project can feed directly into the battery supply chain, unlike at Araguaia.

Numis reiterated a ‘buy’ recommendation on the stock and moved its target price to 13p from 11p, with the current price sitting at 4p.

“The PFS for Horizonte’s Vermelho provides a second value driver with exposure to the higher growth battery technology segment,” the broker’s analysts said.