Nickel: Nickel Mines produces first NPI in Indonesia

Australian company Nickel Mines has produced the first nickel pig iron (NPI) at its 60%-owned Hengjaya nickel project, in the Morowali Industrial Park in Indonesia. The NPI was produced from one of the two rotary kilns that the company is building at the site. Commissioning will be interrupted during the Chinese New Year (which runs from 5 February until 19 February), but by early April, Nickel Mines expects the first kiln to be running at 80% capacity. The Hengjaya nickel project’s second kiln is scheduled to start up in early March and is expected to reach 80% capacity by early May. Full-scale production should be reached shortly thereafter.

Nickel mines also owns a 17% stake in the Ranger nickel project, which is building another two rotary kiln electric furnaces (RKEFs) at the Morowali site. This project is now undergoing an expedited schedule, with the first kiln expected to be commissioned in April 2019 and the second in May 2019, well ahead of previous guidance.

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Nickel Mines has a stake in four new RKEFs at the Morowali industrial park, where Tsingshan already operates 20 RKEF lines, as well as a ferrochrome smelter, stainless steel mill and power plant. On top of the four lines in which Nickel Mines has a stake, other lines are being added at the site, which should eventually lead to a doubling of NPI capacity at Morowali. This should allow Tsingshan’s stainless steel plant to increase production to full capacity (it operated at 2Mtpy in 2018, against a design capacity of 3Mtpy). The expedited schedule also underlines how quickly such type of capacity can be brought on line to meet rising demand.

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To discuss the nickel market with Roskill, contact Olivier Masson: olivier@roskill.com or Thomas Höhne-Sparborth: ths@roskill.com