Sumitomo eyes $1-B nickel plant in Mindanao

Sumitomo eyes $1-B nickel plant in Mindanao

Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila on Wednesday hailed a plan of Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd. to put up a nickel-smelting project in Mindanao worth $1 billion, saying projects like it were ”very welcome as long as they comply with our various laws.”

In an announcement dated March 29, Tokyo-based Sumitomo said it had teamed up with the Zamora group’s Taganito Mining Corp. on a joint feasibility study covering an area in Taganito town in the province of Surigao del Sur.

Sumitomo said the project was planned as a large-scale smelting venture that would use high-pressure acid leaching, or HPAL, ”a technology garnering world attention.”

The company said that if results of the study proved favorable, Sumitomo and Taganito Mining would form a joint-venture firm in 2008 and build an HPAL plant on property adjacent to the Taganito mine.

”Plans call for the production of 30,000 tons (in equivalent metal nickel) of nickel/cobalt mixed sulfide yearly, with the raw material to consist primarily of low-grade nickel oxide ore produced at the Taganito mine,” Sumitomo said.

The HPAL plant would start operations in 2012 and continue for about 30 years, it said.

HPAL technology enables the recovery of nickel and cobalt from low-grade nickel oxide ore. ”Before HPAL was developed, recovery of valuable metals from such ore had been difficult,” Sumitomo said.

Sumitomo described itself as ”a global leader in this technology based on the company’s success in the Coral Bay nickel project” in the western Philippine province of Palawan where some 10,000 tons of nickel are produced annually.

It said it was investing $300 million to expand its Coral Bay facilities and double output by 2009.

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