Brazils Votorantim to extend life of MG nickel plant

Brazils Votorantim to extend life of MG nickel plant

Votorantim Metais (VM), Brasil’s biggest nickel producer, will extend the life of its Minas Gerais state nickel plant.

“We have struck a partnership with a Goias state nickel miner, Americano do Brasil, that will supply nickel sulfide ore to our Fortaleza de Minas nickel matte operation,” company superintendent Joao Bosco said late Thursday.

“This will allow us prolong the life of our operations there by at least five years,” he said.

VM currently produces 6,000 tonnes per year of nickel matte at Fortaleza de Minas, all of which is exported under contract to U.S. nickel producer OM Group Inc.’s nickel smelting facilities in Finland.

However, VM’s own nickel sulfide mine at Fortaleza de Minas is close to exhaustion. The company will be able to continue its operations there only by buying in the ore, he said.

Americano de Brasil will annually supply 6,000 tonnes of ore to Fortaleza de Minas for at least five years, according to Bosco.

“And if we are able to buy more ore on the market, possibly from producers in Canada, Australia or Africa, we would be able to run Fortaleza de Minas at its full capacity of 10,000 tonnes/year nickel matte,” he said.

Nickel matte has a lower nickel content than electrolytic nickel and needs further refining. Its end-users are the steel and stainless steel industries.

VM’s own nickel mines in Brazil’s Goias state produce silicate and carbonate nickel ore types that are unsuitable for use at the Fortaleza de Minas operation, he said.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

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