16 Mar 2012

New Caledonia's Vale poised to launch nickel plant

2:36 pm on 16 March 2012

New Caledonia's Vale nickel company says it expects to produce 20,000 tonnes of nickel this year after retesting its plant in Goro.

The project, which has been delayed by three years, suffered a major setback two years ago when a fault triggered a noxious spill into the lagoon of a World Heritage Site.

Vale New Caledonia's head in Noumea, Stuart Macnaughton, says the facility has been changed and re-tested, allowing for the proper launch of the plant which has cost about five billion US dollars to build.

The company says rebuilding the facilities after the 2010 problems has cost it 100 million US dollars.

Once fully operational, Vale has targets of an annual production of 60,000 tonnes of nickel and 4,000 tonnes of cobalt.

In the territory's north, work to build the Koniambo nickel plant is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

The established smelter of SLN in Noumea expects to produce 60,000 tonnes of nickel this year.