Bindura Nickel Corporation (BNC) says it intends to complete its smelter in 2020 financial year as the firm shifts focus from shaft deepening project it commenced in 2019.
Earlier this year BNC announced that it had halted smelter construction to focus on shaft deepening project to boost production in anticipation of increased global nickel prices.
BNC developed a wait-and-see attitude on the smelter project, mainly hinged on the price of the commodity, a move that made the firm’s management to decelerate the project waiting for higher nickel price levels.
The company’s management indicated that depressed nickel prices had led to a revision of project priorities as it would not make economic sense to continue injecting huge capital into a smelter whose operations require more capital at hand.
In an interview on the sidelines of the firm’s tour BNC chief executive officer Batirai Manhando hinted his company will without fail complete its long scheduled smelter construction project next year.
He said that most of the components required for the projects had already been purchased and only required fittings.
“Long-term we really have to now complete the smelter in the next financial year, as of now the furnace is done the main outstanding work is the installation of electrostatic precipitator that constitute most of the 17 percent work.
“Our financial year starts in April within that year we should be able to finish the project.
“The precipitator is the major outstanding work – most of the components have been bought so it is just installation so it does not take time,
it will not take even six months to complete,” said Mr Manhando.
In the last months the company had been focusing on processes that would increase ore output for the smelter as the industry remains optimistic that the price will hit the US$70 000 mark per tonne in the next three years driven by an upsurge in demand.
Meanwhile, the firm is giving significant attention to new projects of Shangani and Damba Silwane in the southern part of the country, which they claim will be significant contributors of ore body to the underway smelter project.
“We have the strategies to try and open more mines not just running Trojan.
“Once we do that, there will be more volumes to run the smelter and it will make more economic sense. We have Hunters Road, we have Shangani (very low grade) and Damba Silwane,” he said.
Nickel prices have averaged US$12 000 per tonne since 2015 compared to the average London Metal Exchange (LME) price of US$16 000 per tonne forecast and the industry’s stakeholders are anticipating that the price will hit the US$70 000 mark per tonne in the next three year driven by an upsurge in demand.
Nickel is used in major industrial processes.
Most nickel production is used for alloying elements, coatings, batteries, and some other uses, such as kitchen wares, mobile phones, medical equipment, transport, buildings, power generation and jewellery.
The electric car revolution is set to transform the nickel mining companies since the product is a major component of hybrid car batteries.–herald.co.zw