Coral Bay Nickel to Double Output Capacity

Sumitomo Metal Mining announced on Tuesday the firm doubles output of high-pressure acid leach at the joint venture, Coral Bay Nickel Corporation in Philippines for US$ 285 million. The firm builds second plant starting April 2009 to make high-pressure acid leach to make annual 10,000 tonnes of nickel and 700 tonnes of cobalt in nickel-cobalt mixed sulfide. The JV’s output capacity will increase to 20,000 tonnes of nickel and 1,400 tonnes of cobalt after the expansion. Sumitomo Metal Mining controls 54% of the JV with the partners’ share of 18% by Mitsui & Co., 18% by Sojitz Corporation and 10% by Rio Tuba Nickel Mining. The JV is also the first offshore smelting project for Sumitomo Metal Mining with controlling share.Traditional nickel smelting uses sulfide nickel ore and high-grade oxide nickel ore as raw materials. As a result of 20-year smelting, the Filipino site has 16 million tonnes of low-grade oxide ore, which was hard to treat. The high-pressure acid leach process produces nickel-cobalt mixed sulfide by using the low-grade ore.Sumitomo Metal Mining uses all of nickel-cobalt mixed sulfide to make electrolytic nickel and electrolytic cobalt at the plant in Ehime. The first plant of the JV started operation in April 2005 and operates at full capacity of annual 10,000 tonnes.