PNG Industry News
AFTER years of overseeing the development of Papua New Guinea’s only nickel laterite mine, Ramu NiCo president Luo Shu was reportedly replaced, with the operation expected to miss its full production goal by at least 1.5 years.
The Ramu nickel joint venture had long aimed to hit full production of 31,150 tonnes per annum of nickel and 3300tpa of cobalt in mid-2013.
Ongoing commissioning delays with the three autoclaves circuits have set back these plans.
Production only reached 30% of nameplate capacity during the March quarter, according to 8.56% stakeholder Highlands Pacific.
Output so far has also been of a lesser grade “intermediate” mixed nickel cobalt hydroxide product since the first exports to China started last November. According to The National, Luo was replaced by Zhao Shimin of China Metallurgical Corporation’s (MCC) mining construction and contract miner subsidiary MCC Huaye.
Zhao, who had a leadership role with MCC’s Sierra Grande iron ore project in Argentina, which started exporting this year, reportedly said Ramu NiCo was targeting at 50% of the design production capacity this year, 80% next year and 100% in early 2015.
The report did not reveal any signs the mine would close down despite the recent dive in global nickel prices. Located 75km west of the provincial capital of Madang, the Ramu operation is 85% owned by MCC through Ramu NiCo. Other stakeholders are state-owned Mineral Resources Ramu (3.94%) and landowner company Mineral Resources Madang (2.5%).