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)
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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