MAC: Mines and Communities

Boost for nickel in PNG

Published by MAC on 2004-10-18

As one Chinese minerals company prepares to bid for the Canadian mining giant Noranda, so another - the state Chinese Metallurgical and Construction Company - digs deepr into Papua New Guinea. The much-opposed and much-delayed Ramu nickel project (set to employ Submarine Tailings Disposal) is also being cranked up for go-ahead.

Boost for nickel in PNG

The development of Papua New Guinea’s nickel project received an added boost with an announcement its Chinese operator will open an office in Port Moresby.

Officials from China Metallurgical and Construction Company (CMCC) are currently in the country, having briefed different Government officials including the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and Mining Minister Sam Akoitai on the progress of the project.

They have announced they will open up an office in Port Moresby to oversee their operations in the country. Mining Minister Sam Akoitai said the project looked positive but he could not go into details on what the Chinese had to say about the project.

Mr Akoitai also said the National Executive Council had approved the appointment of the Land Titles Commission to look into land issues at the Ramu Nickel and Cobalt Project area but the delay was with the Treasury Department who are supposed to release some money. “We will advise in detail as we progress on the project,” Mr Akoitai said. “But everything is looking positive.”

He said officials from CMCC were in the country to brief the Government on their due diligence study into the project feasibility studies.

In February this year, Ramu Nickel Limited, a subsidiary of Highlands Pacific Limited, and Mineral Resources Development Company (MRDC) representing the State’s equity entered into a heads of agreement with the Chinese Metallurgical and Construction Company to develop the Ramu Nickel Project.

Under the heads of agreement, CMCC will acquire 85 per cent interest in the Ramu project, RNL, MRDC and the landowners will have a combined 15 per cent interest which will be “free carried” to the start of commercial production.

The world-class Ramu nickel project, located in Madang Province, is planned as a low cost operation, treating laterite ores to produce nickel and cobalt.

The development of this “wet tropical” laterite deposit from Madang and the construction of a nickel and cobalt refinery on the PNG north coast has received all the permits and approvals necessary for development from the National Government.

The feasibility study and update studies have been based on production of 32,800 tonnes of nickel and 3,200 tonnes of cobalt every year either as metal or contained in a high-grade intermediate long-life operation.

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