PROCESSING

Eramet raises Weda Bay target to 10M tons

French mining and metallurgy company Eramet has raised its target for mine production at its Weda Bay nickel project in Indonesia to over 10 million wet tonnes in 2021.

A test pit at Weda Bay

A test pit at Weda Bay

Eramet pointed to "exceptional progress" at the plant, which only started operations in 2020, for the new target.

The 10 million wet tonnes in 2021 target is almost double the 6 million expected previously. The company also plans to produce 40,000 tonnes of low-grade nickel ferroalloys.

"[There was] exceptional progress in mining operations in Weda Bay in Indonesia [in the first quarter] with 3.0 Mwmt of nickel ore produced; a strong cash contribution is expected for the Group in 2021."

Mining operations began at Weda Bay in October 2019: the first metric ton of ferronickel was produced, and a 1.6Mth stock of nickel ore was formed. 

On April 30, 2020, the first ferronickel casting took place, ahead of the initial schedule - 20 months after construction had begun on the plant. 

Eramet reported on Monday that group-wide turnover up 8% in the first quarter, driven by the "strong growth" of the mining and metals division.

Other operating highlights included 1.5 Mt in manganese ore produced in Gabon, a rise of 17% versus the first quarter last year, 1.1 Mwmt of ore produced in New Caledonia, a rise of 14%.

"The strong growth momentum in our mining activities produced the expected results: in the first quarter, our operating performance continued to make progress, in a favourable price environment. Our turnover grew significantly versus the same period for 2020, which was still hardly affected by the pandemic," said Christel Bories, Eramet group chair and CEO.

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