Xstrata Nickel, one of Xstrata Group's global commodity businesses and the industrial partner in the Koniambo Nickel Project, has completed the construction of the first production line of the smelter, with first metal from the line expected to be tapped in January.
The necessary support services and operational infrastructure are currently undergoing pre-operational testing and commissioning, the firm said, adding that the majority of its construction resources will now be devoted to the construction of a second production line.
Ian Pearce, Chief Executive of Xstrata Nickel, said: "We are very excited about the progress being made at Koniambo, including the successful delivery of Line 1. It is a testament to our dedicated project and operation teams at Koniambo Nickel that we can now focus on moving to first production.
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"Our journey to this point has been a long and complex one, but Koniambo Nickel is finally close to becoming a reality and bringing mutual benefit to all the stakeholders who have a keen interest in its success. I am proud of the role Xstrata has played in making Koniambo Nickel a reality - including continuing construction throughout the global financial crisis - and the support we have received from our many partners in New Caledonia and France."
The second production line is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2013, as part of the project's target to ramp up to a steady state annual production run rate of 60,000 tonnes of nickel in ferronickel within two years, by the end of 2014.
"Koniambo Nickel's mine is already operating with the geological integrity of our resource forecasts intact," the group added. "The ore-preparation plant and overland conveyer are in operation and the team is working to ensure we have 30,000 tons of on-spec ore ready for the metallurgical plant by the end of the year."
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