Cuba hopes to keep nickel output above 60,000 tonnes – by Marc Frank (Reuters U.S. – March 26, 2013)

HAVANA, March 26 (Reuters) – The Cuban nickel industry plans to produce around 62,000 tonnes 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 tonnes.”

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 tonnes 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 tonnes of unrefined nickel plus cobalt in 2010, the last official figures available, after averaging around 74,000 tonnes during much of the past decade.

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