Cuba 09 unrefined nickel output at 70,100 tonnes
Tue Jan 5, 2010 5:51pm EST
HAVANA, Jan 5 (Reuters) – Cuba's unrefined nickel plus cobalt production
weighed in at 70,100 tonnes last year, down slightly from the 70,400
tonnes reported in 2008, state-run media said on Tuesday.
Holguin province's television Cristal reported the production as part of
a program on the area's economic performance last year.
The country's three processing plants are located in Holguin.
"The industry did not meet its plan for the year, as the only plant that
was able to reach its goal was the Pedro Sotto Alba," the report said,
without providing further details.
The provincial state-run newspaper, Ahora, reported this week that
output at the Pedro Soto Alba plant, a joint venture with Canadian
mining company Sherritt International's (S.TO), was more than 2000
tonnes above 2008, a record.
Last year Sherritt International reported 2008 output at the plant was
34,673 tonnes of unrefined nickel plus cobalt.
There was no further information on output at the two other plants in
the area which are fully owned and operated by state monopoly Cubaniquel.
Earlier this year Holguin media said the year's plan was around 70,000
tonnes and that due to hurricane damage the state-run Ernesto Che
Guevara plant, with a capacity of 32,000 tonnes, would produce around
Scattered reports this year indicated the state-run Rene Ramos Latourt
plant, the oldest with a capacity of 10,000 tonnes to 15,000 tonnes, was
operating below capacity at various times.
Hurricane Ike, a Category 3 storm, hit Cuba in September 2008 at
Holguin's northern coast, where the nickel industry's three processing
plants are located, damaging the two Cubaniquel plants, infrastructure,
housing and buildings and swamping the area with torrential rains and a
Output had averaged between 74,000 tonnes and 75,000 tonnes of unrefined
nickel plus cobalt for much of the decade before the storm hit.
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.
Cuban nickel is considered to be Class II, with an average 90 percent
Cuba's National Minerals Resource Center reported that eastern Holguin
province accounted for more than 30 percent of the world's known nickel
reserves, with lesser reserves in other parts of the country. (Reporting
by Marc Frank; Editing by David Gregorio)
Cuba 09 unrefined nickel output at 70,100 tonnes | Reuters (5 January