Archive | Nickel Laterites

Papua New Guinea may shut Chinese-owned nickel plant after spill – by Melanie Burton (Reuters U.S. – August 29, 2019)

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – A nickel processing plant owned by Metallurgical Corp of China (MCC) that spilled mine waste into Papua New Guinea’s Basamuk Bay faces compensation claims and possibly closure, the head of the country’s minerals authority said on Thursday.

MCC’s Ramu nickel plant located in Madang, on the country’s northeastern coast, spilled waste into the bay over the weekend which caused the surrounding ocean to turn red and left a muddy residue on the rocky shoreline, according to locals and photographs of the incident.

The spillage occurred when a plant operator did not notice a pump failure during a maintenance shutdown, causing a tank to overflow and mining waste to disperse into the ocean, Jerry Garry, managing director of PNG’s Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) said. Continue Reading →

Chinese-owned nickel plant spills waste into Papua New Guinea bay – by Melanie Burton and Tom Daly (Reuters U.S. – August 28, 2019)

MELBOURNE/BEIJING (Reuters) – Waste from a nickel plant in Papua New Guinea owned by Metallurgical Corporation of China spilled into the adjacent Basamuk Bay over the weekend, three sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

Locals noticed red discharge clouding parts of the bay that is next to the Ramu Nickel plant in Madang, Papua New Guinea, a local indigenous person who took photographs of the spillage told Reuters. The man declined to be identified because of the topic’s sensitivity.

The head of Papua New Guinea’s Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) said that its officials, as well as those from PNG’s Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA), had put together a preliminary report on the incident. Continue Reading →

Mystery nickel buyer could bring First Quantum’s Ravensthorpe back online – by Brian Sylvester (Northern Miner – August 26, 2019)

Northern Miner

First Quantum Minerals (TSX: FM; LSE: FQM) management says it could have a buyer for any nickel produced from a restart of the venerable Ravensthorpe nickel-cobalt mine at Bandalup Hill in Western Australia, but on a second-quarter earnings call, the company’s CEO, Philip Pascall, was intentionally vague about who that buyer might be.

Pascall cited increasing interest from a “not Congo source” that wants a “strategic source” of nickel. “We need it to be in production to be able to take advantage of that, but it’s profitable [at current nickel prices]. The cost to bring it back into production is very modest because of the work we’ve done sustaining it,” Pascall said.

After being peppered with several questions regarding Ravensthorpe from seemingly surprised analysts, Pascall said: “[The proposed buyer] would want to see it operating. The production levels … something over 20,000 tonnes for next year. But the actual start date at the moment is going to move up or down a month or two.” Continue Reading →

Western Areas sees strong competition for its nickel – by Brad Thompson (Australian Financial Review – August 20, 2019)

Western Areas has flagged hot competition for its nickel when off-take agreements with BHP expire early next year and says the mining giant has only a small window to make premiums from its new battery-focused nickel sulphate plant.

Dan Lougher-led Western Areas said on Tuesday that the rise in electric vehicles was driving keen interest in nickel concentrate from its operations in Western Australia in the countdown to off-take agreements with BHP Nickel West and China’s largest stainless steel maker, Tsingshan, expiring early in 2020.

The company has invited 19 parties to tender for new off-take agreements and says it favours short-term deals based on optimism that nickel prices will continue to strengthen on the back of demand from makers of batteries and battery precursors. Continue Reading →

Gina Lopez, Who Led Crackdown on Mines in the Philippines, Dies at 65 – by Jason Gutierrez (New York Times – August 19, 2019)

MANILA — Gina Lopez, a former environmental activist who introduced a broad crackdown on Philippine mining companies after she was appointed the country’s environmental secretary in 2016, died Monday at age 65.

Her death, from multiple organ failure, was confirmed by the ABS-CBN Foundation, a social development group in which she was the longtime chair.

The outspoken Lopez landed the job of acting environment secretary when President Rodrigo Duterte came to power in 2016. And she wasted no time in going after major mining companies that she said had flagrantly violated the country’s environmental laws. Continue Reading →

Philippines’ top high-grade nickel ore miner set to shut down: government official – by Enrico Dela Cruz (Reuters U.S. – August 16, 2019)

MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines’ top exporter of high-grade nickel ore is expected to shut its mining operations soon as ore deposits at a project in the nation’s southernmost province of Tawi-Tawi are nearly depleted, a ministry official told Reuters.

SR Languyan Mining Corp will shut “most likely” later this year, said Jaynul Ali Sambarani, head of mines and geoscience services at the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

The closure will likely reduce the Philippines’ monthly exports of nickel ore to top metals consumer China by 300,000 to 400,000 tonnes, based on estimates by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB). Continue Reading →

UPDATE 1-Nickel sizzle: Hot money piles into metal on Indonesia ore ban talk – by Mai Nguyen and Bernadette Christina (Reuters U.S. – August 8, 2019)

SINGAPORE/JAKARTA, Aug 8 (Reuters) – Nickel prices surged on Thursday on concerns that major supplier Indonesia could bring forward a ban on ore exports despite a senior official claiming any such ruling remains “uncertain.”

Benchmark three-month nickel on the London Metal Exchange (LME) surged as much as 12.7% to $16,690 a tonne, its highest since April 2018. That is the biggest intraday percentage gain for the nickel forward since Jan. 2, 2009.

LME nickel eased to $15,545 a tonne at 0940 GMT, up 5%. The most active nickel contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) rose to a record 124,890 yuan ($17,730.49) a tonne. “This is a very sexy price. For miners, higher price always makes us happy,” said a trader with a nickel mine. Continue Reading →

Gold Is Hot But Nickel Is Hotter As Demand Grows For Batteries In Electric Vehicles – by Tim Treadgold (Forbes Magazine – August 11, 2019)

Gold is hot but there’s another metal which is hotter, nickel. Up 30% over the past two months nickel has delivered more than double the performance of gold which is up 13% over the same time, and the gap could get a lot wider as the supply of nickel stagnates and demand accelerates.

The driving force behind the recent awakening of gold is well-understood and can be summed up as a flight to safety as the China v U.S. trade war slows global growth and values of conventional, or fiat currencies, are debased by governments resorting to quantitative easing or other forms of creating money.

Nickel’s drivers are different and far easier to understand and boil down to a simple case of supply exceeding demand which, in past nickel booms, was essentially a case of mines failing to keep up with the requirements of steel mills making stainless steel, a material which has traditional consumed close to 80% of the world’s nickel. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 1-Indonesia says no decision yet on early start to mineral ore export ban (Reuters U.S. – August 9, 2019)

JAKARTA, Aug 9 (Reuters) – Indonesia is discussing bringing forward a ban on mineral ore exports that was previously set to begin in 2022, but no decision has yet been made on such a move, its trade minister said on Friday.

Talk of a possible earlier start to the ban on ore exports from one of the world’s key sources of metals pushed benchmark nickel prices to a 16-month high on Thursday.

Indonesia’s trade minister, Enggartiasto Lukita, also said on Friday that President Joko Widodo had asked for input from his ministers on the step. Current mining regulations allow exports of unprocessed mineral ore until January 2022, with an Indonesian industry association on Thursday urging the government to stick to that timetable. Continue Reading →

Nickel proves it’s the wildest metal with sudden $2,000 spike (Bloomberg/ – August 8, 2019)

Nickel has long had a reputation as the most volatile base metal, but its biggest daily jump in a decade has left even the most seasoned traders astonished.

The metal spiked as much as 13 per cent, or almost US$2,000 a ton, in thin Asian morning trading, extending a rally over the past month triggered by rumours that top producer Indonesia might bring forward a ban on nickel ore exports. Prices eased after the nation’s mining ministry denied that any policy changes are imminent, but were still up a hefty amount as London trading opened.

“You can see that the market is barely trading now because people just don’t know what to do,” said George Daniel, a hedge fund manager at Red Kite who’s been trading metals since 1993. “It could come off from here, but everyone’s just waiting to see if China comes in and buys it again.” Continue Reading →

Hyperdrive: The Top Miners Are Split on How to Chase the EV Battery Boom – by David Stringer (Bloomberg News – August 4, 2019)

The world’s biggest miners, including BHP Group and Glencore Plc, are finally firm believers in the electric vehicle battery revolution — what they don’t agree on is which metals will deliver the best long-term exposure to the developing global market.

BHP has revived a declining nickel unit in Western Australia to target the sector, while Rio Tinto Group is accelerating work to enter the lithium market. Glencore is focusing on cobalt and copper and Anglo American Plc is examining prospects for platinum and palladium to be deployed in future battery technologies.

“We did a review of all the battery input materials — nickel, cobalt, lithium,” said Eduard Haegel, asset president at the BHP’s Nickel West unit. “We think that in the medium-to-longer term there will be a margin that will be sticky for nickel — we think it’s an attractive commodity.” Continue Reading →

Ravensthorpe nickel mine set to re-open a third time amid soaring demand for the metal – by Kit Mochan (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – July 30, 2019)

The owners of the mothballed Ravensthorpe nickel mine in Western Australia’s south-east say they will move to re-open the site if surging demand for the metal continues.

In its latest quarterly results posted overnight, First Quantum Minerals said it was planning to restart the nickel and cobalt operation by early next year.

The Canadian mining giant memorably bought the asset off BHP Billiton in 2010 for $US340 million ($493 million), a fraction of the $US3 billion it cost to build and commission the facility. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: China’s Tsingshan roils nickel market with buying spree – by Pratima Desai and Tom Daly (Reuters U.S. – July 19, 2019)

LONDON/BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese firm Tsingshan Holding Group has been buying large quantities of stainless steel ingredient nickel on the London Metal Exchange (LME) to supplement its own output, two sources familiar with the matter said. They could not specify the amounts Tsingshan has bought.

Nickel prices slid to their lowest for the year in the second quarter as investment funds sold on the expectation of slowing demand from Chinese stainless steel mills as economic activity came under pressure from the U.S.-China trade war.

But as unexpectedly higher demand numbers started to trickle out, the same funds rushed to cut their bets on lower prices. Continue Reading →

Elon Musk: Revolutionising Space Transportation with Stainless Steel – by Benjamin Spilker ( – July 12, 2019)

SpaceX has come a long way. After being shocked by the absence of NASA’s concrete plans for a manned mission to Mars in the early 2000s, Elon Musk, the well-known entrepreneur and engineer, founded SpaceX in order to establish affordable access to space.

After spending a couple of years on designing, building and testing the first privately developed orbital rockets, the fourth launch of the Falcon 1 rocket into orbit was successful, marking the dawn of private space transportation.

With its proven capabilities, SpaceX was awarded a substantial contract from NASA for supply missions to the International Space Station, providing the funding for a rapid development of new launch vehicles. Continue Reading →

Metals in Space: How Superalloys Changed the Rocket Landscape – by Benjamin Spilker ( – March 26, 2019)

There is a high chance that a large variety of metals is in your proximity at this very moment. Metals are found and used virtually everywhere, from the iron in your red blood cells to the rare earth metals in the screen you are reading these lines from.

Many of the greatest advances in technology can be traced back to the exceptional characteristics that can be achieved by manufacturing parts from metal or alloying different metals to obtain even more superior materials.

Apart from the materials themselves, the manufacturing techniques evolved from hammering copper in approximately the 6th millennium BC [1] to, more recently, 3D printing of titanium. Continue Reading →