Archive | Nickel Laterites

Electric vehicles could be a game changer for high-grade nickel producers – by Tess Ingram (Australian Financial Review – July 25, 2017)

Strong interest in a new battery-grade nickel product Western Areas plans to produce reinforces suggestions the growing electric vehicles sector could deliver a “renaissance” for the flagging nickel market, Western Areas managing director Dan Lougher says.

Western Areas started work in the June quarter on its mill recovery enhancement project, which plans to produce a high-grade nickel concentrate product from its Forrestania nickel operations in Western Australia from the March quarter of 2018.

While the project will produce only about 1400 tonnes of the 45 to 50 per cent nickel concentrate, compared to Western Areas’ annual nickel production of about 25,000 tonnes, Mr Lougher said the Perth-based miner had already fielded interest in the product from multiple global battery market players. Continue Reading →

Philippines’ Duterte warns miners: ‘I will tax you to death’ – by Enrico Dela Cruz (Reuters U.S. – July 24, 2017)

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he wanted to stop exporting mineral resources and might close the mining sector completely and tax miners “to death” if damage to the environment persisted.

“The protection of the environment must be made a priority ahead of mining and all other activities that adversely affect one way or another,” Duterte said in his State of the Nation address, his second since assuming power in June last year. “This policy is non-negotiable.”

The Philippines is the world’s biggest supplier of nickel ore and also among the top producers of copper and gold. However, the sector contributes less than 1 percent to the country’s economy, based on data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau. Continue Reading →

Vale’s future in New Caledonia uncertain (Radio New Zealand – July 18, 2017)

New Caledonia is facing the possibilty of unprecedented job losses because of the continued low nickel price. The Brazilian company Vale is reassessing its commitment to running the Goro plant in the south of New Caledonia’s main island on which thousands of jobs depend.

Jamie Tahana asked Walter Zweifel what has triggered the concern.

WALTER ZWEIFEL: The low nickel price has been like a dark cloud over the entire nickel sector for years now, with losses being run up by all the three main operators. What sent the alarm bells ringing is the announcement by Vale’s new CEO Fabio Schvartsman in Brazil at the start of this month that it was reviewing its operation in New Caledonia. Vale runs a global network of mines and mining-related businesses which make it the world’s top iron producer. However Vale has been bleeding money in New Caledonia where it is reported to have lost $US1.3 billion in the past three years.

JAMIE TAHANA: What are the options that are being discussed? Continue Reading →

Cuba sees 2017 nickel, cobalt sulfides output at 54,500 tonnes (Reuters U.S. – July 9, 2017)

Cuba plans to produce 54,500 tonnes of nickel and cobalt sulfides this year, state-run television said at the weekend.

Nickel is one of the cash-strapped Communist-run country’s most important exports, but revenue from it has suffered in recent years due to a decline in production and prices. The country was ranked 10th in world nickel production in 2016 and sixth in cobalt.

Cuba produced on average 74,000 tonnes of nickel plus cobalt during the first decade of this century, but the oldest of three plants was shuttered in 2012 and another has suffered from obsolescence and hurricane damage. Cuban nickel industry executives told Reuters a year ago that the industry was averaging 56,000 tonnes per year. Continue Reading →

Electric car growth sparks environmental concerns – by Henry Sanderson (Financial Times – July 7, 2017)

Tesla Motors and now Volvo may have big plans to end the addiction of drivers to fossil fuels via electric vehicles, however the environmental footprint of mining raw materials used in car batteries and their eventual disposal are emerging as a flash point.

As the mining sector presents a green face and extracts raw materials from lithium to cobalt and nickel that constitute electric batteries, so the focus on their environmental standards and energy efficient production methods will intensify. At the tail-end of the electric vehicle boom is the matter of improving the recycling of lithium-ion batteries and making sure the environmental impact is also contained.

“There will be more scrutiny over the supply chain for electric vehicles than there is from the consumer electronics industry due to the green credentials of EVs,” says Robert Baylis, an analyst at consultancy Roskill. “And recycling is probably not going to have an impact for 10 years, and may not reach significant volume for 15-30 years.” Continue Reading →

RPT-COLUMN-As Indonesian nickel ore flows again to China, famine turns to feast – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – July 4, 2017)

LONDON, July 4 The flow of Indonesian nickel ore to China has resumed after a three-and-a-half year break. There have been a few false alarms since the Indonesian government banned all exports of unprocessed minerals, including nickel, at the start of 2014.

China’s trade figures have shown the occasional import of what has been classified as nickel ore but which was in all probability iron ore with high nickel content. But May’s 264,000 tonnes seem the real deal. Not only was it the largest monthly total in three years but it tallies with plans by Indonesia’s Aneka Tambang (Antam) to make its first 150,000-tonne shipment at the start of the month.

It’s still a fraction of what Indonesia used to send every month to China before 2014. The export ban remains in place but with a growing number of exemptions for companies that have committed to building processing plants. Continue Reading →

Vale says loss-making New Caledonia nickel operations under review (Reuters U.S. – July 3, 2017)

Brazil’s Vale is reassessing its loss-making New Caledonian nickel operations as part of a wider review of low performing assets after new Chief Executive Fabio Schvartsman took charge last month, a spokesman said.

“Under the leadership of our new CEO, Vale is reviewing all assets and operations, with low-performing assets an area of particular focus. Vale New Caledonia is part of that review,” spokesman Cory McPhee told Reuters by email.

“The nickel price today is languishing at around $9,000 a tonne with no indication of recovery in the near-term. This has forced us to reassess all areas of the nickel business, including our operations in New Caledonia, which continue to lose money at these prices.” Continue Reading →

Philippines minister may decide on mining closure orders next month – by Enrico Dela Cruz (Daily Mail/Reuters – June 27, 2017)

MANILA, June 27 (Reuters) – The new Philippines environment minister said on Tuesday he may decide next month on the fate of dozens of mining operations and contracts that his predecessor ordered closed, suspended or cancelled to protect watersheds and other natural resources.

Roy Cimatu said he plans to visit mines in the world’s top nickel ore supplier to see if they are operating responsibly as he takes a slow approach towards a sector that was the target of a 10-month crackdown led by the previous minister, Regina Lopez.

Cimatu, a former soldier, took over the environment ministry post on May 8, shortly after the dismissal of Lopez, who ordered the closure or suspension of 26 operating mines and revoked 75 mining contracts in what she said was a fight against “greedy miners” threatening public heath and nature. Continue Reading →

Nickel production to grow for first time since 2013 — report – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – June 19, 2017)

If BMI Research predictions are correct, prices risk staying at painfully low levels for years.

Global nickel production will come out of negative territory this year for the first time since 2013, driven by Indonesia’s export ban moderation, a new report published Monday shows.

Along with Indonesia, Canada and Australia will lead growth output rates from until 2021, while major miners in the number one global producer, the Philippines, will benefit from the ousting of anti-mining minister Gina López from government, BMI Research analysts say.

World nickel production is expected to grow by an average 3.4% each year until 2021, the research arm of Fitch Group said in the report. However, production growth rates during the next five years will remain lower than the 5.3% average rates achieved between 2012 and 2016, they said, citing higher nickel prices experienced before the commodities slump as the main reason. Continue Reading →

Some Indonesian nickel smelters cease operations due to falling prices (Reuters U.S. – June 19, 2017)

About a dozen newly constructed nickel smelters in Indonesia have stopped operations due to a plunge in nickel prices while others are operating at a loss, an industry association executive said on Monday.

Thirteen smelters with a combined capacity of 750,000 tonnes of nickel pig iron a year “were forced to cease operation” because nickel prices reached as low as around $8,000 a tonne, Jonatan Handojo, deputy chairman of the Indonesian Smelter Association told Reuters, declining to name the owners of the smelters.

Three-month nickel touched a one-year low of $8,680 per tonne on the London Metal Exchange last week and is down more than 10 percent so far this year. The metal was trading at $8,975 per tonne on Monday at 0800 GMT. Continue Reading →

Zinc, tin, nickel, platinum evoke most optimism at Junior Indaba – by Martin Creamer ( – June 8, 2017)

JOHANNESBURG ( – UK market intelligence firm CRU is most optimistic about the prospects for zinc, tin, nickel and, to a certain extent, platinum over a 12-month time horizon and named copper, bauxite, nickel and gold as good commodities to be in over the longer term.

CRU principal consultant Ben Jones told the Junior Indaba in Johannesburg on Thursday that he expected a divergence across bulk commodities and base metals. Jones formed part of a panel discussion led by Standard Bank mining head Sandra du Toit and participated in by Regarding Capital Management chairperson Piet Viljoen and Standard Bank mining research head Tim Clark.

Clark said heart had to be taken from the mining industry finding the bottom, after a period of cost cutting, and experiencing a rebound and a restart because the waning of supply had brought it into the present healthier state. Continue Reading →

Low prices to pile more pressure on beleaguered nickel miners – by Melanie Burton and Cecile Lefort (Reuters U.S. – June 7, 2017)

MELBOURNE/SYDNEY – Global nickel miners are coming under renewed pressure to cut costs or close capacity as a flood of cheap ore pushes prices to one-year lows, with analysts seeing little prospect of recovery.

Indonesia and the Philippines are ramping up shipments of nickel ore after Indonesia relaxed an ore export ban earlier this year and a hardline Filipino environmentalist was ousted from the country’s mining ministry. Nickel ore is popular as a cheaper alternative to refined metal for China’s vast steel mills, which use the metal to add strength to stainless steel.

The renewed supply comes as the market is already struggling with softening demand and high stocks, leading a slew of banks to slash their forecasts despite prices having already fallen 60 percent since mid-2014 80 percent from their 2007 peak. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Nickel facing a long and rocky road to price recovery – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – June 5, 2017)

LONDON, June 5 Nickel touched a near one-year low of $8,700 per tonne on the London Metal Exchange (LME) last week.

It has recovered a little to $8,900 this morning but that still makes it by some margin the worst performer among the major LME-traded industrial metals with a year-to-date decline of over 10 percent. And, if you believe Goldman Sachs, the stainless steel ingredient is going to stay at these bombed-out levels for a good while.

The Wall Street heavyweight has just downgraded its three-month, six-month and 12-month price forecasts to $9,000-per tonne from $12,500, $11,000 and $11,000 respectively. Continue Reading →

Policy upheavals buffet mining in Philippines, Indonesia – by Cliff Venzon and Wataru Suzuki (Neikkei Asian Review – May 25, 2017)

Governments and companies struggle for common ground amid shaky recovery

SANTA CRUZ, Philippines/JAKARTA — In the eyes of Diosdado Alota, chief of Guinabon village in the northwest Philippines, the mining industry is key to his community’s health.

Until the national government ordered a suspension of operations in 2014 over alleged river pollution, a nickel mine belonging to LNL Archipelago Minerals employed 80% of the village’s men and annually financed 3 million pesos ($60,000) worth of road work, streetlights and other infrastructure.

“These anti-mining [campaigners] ruined everything,” Alota said. “They say [mining] is destructive to the environment, but I believe natural resources are God’s gift to people.” Not all villagers agree with Alota’s view. On May 14, a number of them joined a group of 20 protesters for a Mother’s Day rally against mining in front of the town hall in nearby Santa Cruz, whose surrounding hills have been stripped of vegetation by miners. Continue Reading →

Philippines struggles to balance environment, mining (Deutsche Welle – May 17, 2017)

The fight for environmental protection in the Philippines has faced a setback with the recent downfall of the Southeast Asian nation’s outspoken environment chief, Regina Lopez, who earned the ire of the mining industry after accusing it of corruption.

Even President Rodrigo Duterte, who enjoys widespread popularity, said he was helpless to save Lopez from being dismissed by a panel of lawmakers – the Commission on Appointments (CA) – scrutinizing her appointment. Duterte suggested “lobby money” influenced the decision.

Lopez was handpicked by the president to head the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), claiming that her passion for the environment made her a natural choice for the post. The president’s pick was widely applauded by environmental groups, but less by the business sector. Continue Reading →