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Rio Tinto Materializes Project To Produce Nickel From 2015
= In Sulawesi Island / Indonesia, To Produce Nickel On Scale Of 46,000 Tons Per Annum
Rio Tinto announced on the 28th of May that the Company is scheduled to materialize the project to produce 46,000 tons per annum of nickel in Sulawesi Island of Indonesia from 2015 and already carried out from 2000 a basic investigation of nickel deposit in Sulawesi Island with testing laterite ore to be molten and refined.

The Sulawesi Nickel Project has a possibility to produce more than 100,000 tons per annum of nickel at the final phase. The background of this nickel project is a 162 million tons of inferred nickel ore (containing 1.62% of nickel and 0.08% of cobalt, consisting of <> limonite ore : 111 million tons ( containing 1.41% of Ni and 0.10% of Co ) and <> saprolite ore : 51 million tons ( containing 2.10% of Ni and 0.04% of Co ).

The laterite deposits are located approximately 40 kilometers from the east coast of Sulawesi Island, straddling the border of Central and South East Sulawesi provinces. The area of nickel deposits is about 84 square kilometers within two main clusters, approximately 30 kilometers apart. Approximately two thirds of the Southern target area has been drill tested to inferred resource level, using diamond core drilling on a one kilometer grid, with targeted 100 meter space drilling.

Shallow open cut mining is the typical mining method for similar deposits. Studies have indicated a typical excavator and truck mining method would be suitable for the Sulawesi deposits. For a reference, the area is part of a larger mineralized province, containing other laterite nickel resources such as Soroako nickel mine (Vale-Inco) and Bahodopi nickel mine (Vale-Inco), and so on.

Also, laboratory metallurgical testwork by Rio Tinto suggests that the Sulawesi deposit can be economically extracted using conventional and commercial high pressure acid leaching techniques (PAL). Nickel recoveries could be around 90% and 88% for cobalt.

For a reference, as regards nickel operations at Rio Tinto, this company sold successively in 2004 Empress Nickel of Zimbabwe and Fortaleza Niquel of Brazil and withdrew from these nickel operations. However, on the other hand, Rio Tinto has concentrated their efforts on the Sulawesi Nickel Project in Indonesia. Main divisions being operated by Rio Tinto are nonferrous metals, iron ore, coal and, raw materials for industrial uses This company has also taken the policy to grow nickel business as one of nonferrous metals and, in line with this policy, is proceeding to develop the Sulawesi Nickel Project.

In addition, Kennecott Minerals, a 100% - owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto, has been proceeding the Eagle Nickel Project in Michigan State of the USA. The nickel reserve is a small scale (5 million tons) but contains a higher nickel of 3.59% and its FS already finished. This nickel project is scheduled to start nickel ore mining during 2008.
last modified : Wed 04 Jun, 2008 [10:39]
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