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Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook: Metals and minerals 1978-79
Year 1978-79, Volume 1 (1978-1979)

Matthews, Norman A.
Nickel,   pp. 629-641 ff. PDF (1.6 MB)


Page 640

640 MINERALS YEARBOOK, 1978-79 
prior year. 
 Japanese production averaged perhaps 50% of capacity in 1978. Further reductions
were mitigated by the Special Metal Stockpiling Association program, which
received a $49.5 million loan from Japan's ExportImport Bank to procure ore
and matte and convert it to nickel and ferronickel. This program provided
1,155 and 14,800 tons of nickel and nickel in ferronickel, respectively,
and 5,535 tons of nickel in high-nickel matte. 
 Nippon Mining Co. toll-refined 165,000 tons of ore for Aneka Tambang in
1978; the product was marketed as ferronickel by Philipp Bros., principally
in the United States. Pacific Metals Corp. toll-refined an extimated 165,000
tons of ore in 1978. Shimura Kako postponed construction of a new refinery
at Date because of depressed market conditions. 
 Overall Japanese demand for primary nickel was estimated at 97,000 metric
tons in 1978, slightly higher than demand in 1977. ' However, the percentage
of refined nickel imported increased because of the high operating costs
of the Japanese producers, so that Japanese production for home consumption
was 87,303 tons compared with 103,507 tons in 1977. 
 Japanese producers rebuilt stocks of laterite ore in 1979. A total of 3.3
million wet metric tons of ore was imported through September, with 51% from
New Caledonia, 28% from Indonesia, and 21% from the Philippines. Total nickel
consumption in 1979, based upon data for 10 months, was about 134,000 tons,
of which 83,000 tons was in ferronickel, 33,000 tons in the form of pure
nickel, and 8,000 tons as a nickel oxide sinter. Essentially all of the ferronickel
and oxide sinter were consumed in production of wrought stainless and alloy
steel products. Nickel consumption by product approximated: wrought stainless
and alloy steel, 67%; cast stainless and high nickel alloys, 9%; electroplating,
9%; large cast and forged products, including mill rolls, 5%; electrical
apparatus forgings and castings, 4%. Net imports of primary nickel products
were comprised of 23,000 tons as ferronickel and 21,000 tons as cathode,
pellets, powder, and briquets; with further increases in fuel prices and
the cost of power, high domestic nickel prices ($3.87 per pound of cathode
at yearend) were expected to lead to continued greater reliance on nickel
imports. 
 New Caledonia.—Production of nickel ore declined in 1978 and 1979
compared with that of 1977 because of reduced re 
quirements for ore by Japan and by SLN. SLN produced 40,777 tons of nickel
in matte and ferronickel in 1978, compared with 56,600 tons in 1977. Sales
of nickel in matte and ferronickel declined to 50,250 tons compared with
55,500 tons in 1977, resulting in a 27% reduction in sales value because
of the lower volume and lower average realized prices. 
 In 1979, SLN and the independent miners produced approximately 4.0 million
wet tons of ore (containing about 89,550 tons of nickel), of which 1.9 million
tons was shipped to Japan. Ferronickel and matte production continued at
about 60% of capacity, with the production of 34,500 tons of nickel in ferronickel
and 13,700 tons of nickel in matte. Sales of ferronickel exceeded production,
resulting in profitable operations during the last half of the year when
higher prices prevailed. 
 AMAX Inc. and Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières
(BRGM) signed an agreement for joint development of nickel deposits at the
north end of the island. Implementation of the agreement covers feasibility
and financing studies and ultimate mine and plant construction and operation
by PROMINES, a French company owned 51% by BRGM and 49% by AMAX. The deposits
owned by PROMINES are located at Tiebaghi, Poum, and the Isle of Art. Reserves
are conservatively estimated at 55 million tons of ore containing 2.5% nickel.
AMAX announced that a sulfuric acid atmospheric and high-pressure leaching
process would be applied to blends of the limonitic and garnieritic layers
of the ore deposits. The facility may be operating by 1990.67 
 Philippines.—Production by Marinduque Mining and Industrial Corp.
was curtailed during 1978 by the depressed nickel market. A total of 17,850
tons of nickel in briquet form was produced, plus 2,790 tons of nickel in
mixed sulfide form, which was refined in Japan. Production in 1979 was 23,470
tons. Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp. shipped 675,000 wet tons of ore containing
over 2% nickel to Japan in 1978, of which about 150,000 tons was converted
to ferronickel for Rio Tuba's account by Pacific Metals Corp. Rio Tuba produced
at an annual rate of 900,000 wet tons of ore in 1979. 
 Benguet Consolidated Inc. and Global Mining Resources Inc. control adjacent
leases of an important laterite deposit in Zambales Province with delineated
ore reserves of 35 million tons containing 1.8% nickel. Falconbridge Nickel
Mines Ltd. will provide some equity for facilities and proc 


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