Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cuba hopes to keep nickel output above 60 000 t

Cuba hopes to keep nickel output above 60 000 t
By: Reuters
26th March 2013

HAVANA – The Cuban nickel industry plans to produce around 62 000 t of
unrefined nickel plus cobalt in 2013, according to local and foreign
company reports, following the closing of one of three processing plants
last year.

The provincial radio station of Eastern Holguin, Radio Angulo, reported
on Monday evening that the Cubaniquel-owned Ernesto Che Guevara plant in
Moa, after experiencing production problems over the last few years, was
now running up to speed.

The station quoted the plant's manager, Rogelio Polanco Fuentes, as
stating, "the plant is in condition to meet this year's plan of 23 700 t."

Canadian mining company Sherritt International, a joint venture partner
with Cubaniquel in the only other open plant, the Pedro Soto Alba, also
in Moa, recently reported 2012 output as 38 054 t and said it expected a
similar performance in 2013.

State monopoly Cubaniquel and Sherritt are also partners in a Canadian
refinery where output from the Pedro Soto Alba plant is shipped, and
after refining is marketed by yet another venture between them.

China and Europe also purchase Cuban nickel products, the country's most
important exports and one of its top foreign exchange earners after
technical services and tourism.

Cuba produced 69 700 t of unrefined nickel plus cobalt in 2010, the last
official figures available, after averaging around 74 000 t during much
of the past decade.

Cuba closed the oldest of its plants, the René Ramos Latourt in Nicaro,
Holguin, last December.

The plant had been producing only a few thousand tons of unrefined
nickel plus cobalt in recent years as the government struggled to keep
it open and figure out what to do with Nicaro's 15 000 residents.

A joint venture ferronickel plant under construction in Moa with
Venezuela is scheduled to open by 2014.

Cuba has valued the ferronickel project at $700-million and said annual
processing would amount to 68 000 tons of ferronickel (21 000 t nickel).

The Caribbean island is one of the world's largest nickel producers and
supplies 10% of the world's cobalt, according to the Basic Industry

Nickel is essential in the production of stainless steel and other
corrosion-resistant alloys. Cobalt is critical in production of super
alloys used for such products as aircraft engines.

Ferronickel is an iron/nickel combination mostly used in steel making.

Cuban nickel is considered to be Class II with an average 90% nickel

Cuba's National Minerals Resource Center reported that eastern Holguin
province had around one-third of the world's known reserves.
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter

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