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Update on deferred nickel projects
TEX reported that economic crisis has caused to postpone 80% of nickel projects, 40,000 tonnes will be newly produced in 2009. It has passed one year after the world economy has entered into an unprecedented crisis originated from the monetary emergency at Lehman Brothers of the USA. This problem has put a substantial impact on the world economy. More than 80% of the surged new nickel projects have been deferred to proceed with a terrible speed. Only the two nickel projects, which are the Kwangyang nickel project in South Korea by POSCO SMSP to produce ferronickel and the Coral Bay nickel project in Philippines by Sumitomo Metal Mining to produce mixed nickel sulfide, have been commissioned in 2009 for nickel production. The current circumstances of main nickel projects in the world are as per the tables attached hereto.Major financial organizations in Wall Street of the USA were once prepared to finance for these new nickel projects but, owing to the storm, which international price of nickel metal fell to a lower level than USD 5 per pound, an outlook for nickel business in the future has collapsed and new nickel projects have been driven to defer to develop.More than 30 of new nickel projects, including small ones in Western Australia, are scheduled to complete in 2009 to 2015 and even main nickel projects have finally targeted to produce nearly 800,000 tonnes of nickel on an annualized base by 2015 as a border line. However, only a few projects commenced nickel production in 2009. New capacities in 2009 are able to produce 82,000 tonnes in total of nickel for a year, consisting of ferronickel, nickel intermediate and nickel ore, but the actual output in 2009 is anticipated to be less than 40,000 tonnes per annum on nickel content base.The Goro nickel project, which is being developed by Vale Inco and marked as the largest one in the world, was initially scheduled to operate from 2009 but has delayed to commence its operation. In the course of time, a simple accident for leakage of sulfuric acid occurred in late March of 2009 and the work for this project was suspended for 2 months. A test to insert raw material into autoclave has been finally planned to practice in October to December quarter of 2009 but it was already known that nickel production on a substantial scale will be commenced in 2010. This project in New Caledonia has taken a cautious attitude for operation and is scheduled to produce 20,000 tonnes of nickel in 2010. The amount to invest in this nickel project was initially estimated to be 2,300 million but, after this estimation was revised by several times, the budget was raised to USD 3,210 million in last year and the latest estimation has expanded to a scale of USD 4,300 million.Nevertheless, some projects out of the flooded ones have been decided to withdraw. The Ravensthorpe nickel project in Western Australia achieved to deliver first production in October to December quarter of 2008 and actually produced 2,000 tonnes of nickel in 2008 but was obliged to suspend its operation from January of 2009. Therefore, the Goro nickel project has disappeared from the lineup to supply nickel for the time being. In view of the steeply risen nickel price arisen in 2007, the Cawse nickel refinery in Western Australia, which has been taken over by Norilsk Nickel of Russia, once resumed nickel production but, owing to the drastically fallen nickel price from autumn of 2008, was enforced to withdraw again from nickel production. The nickel projects, which have been concerned with BHP Billiton and determined to withdraw, have included the Halmahera project in Indonesia, in addition to the Ravensthorpe nickel project as mentioned above.A majority of these nickel projects has deferred to develop in 2010 to 2013 and the total capacity to produce nickel by these postponed projects is anticipated to come up to a scale of 630,000 tonnes per annum, Among the deferred nickel projects, 5 to 6 projects have targeted to commence nickel production in 2010. When these projects start nickel production as scheduled, the apparent quantity of nickel to be newly produced in 2010 is estimated at 71,000 tonnes, putting a certain pressure on the world market of nickel.
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