Part owner Glencore said that production from the Koniambo nickel plant in the South Pacific French territory of New Caledonia has been suspended after a metal spill last week.
Glencore reported that output was put on hold after the spillage from a furnace was detected on December 26th, with an investigation underway to determine the cause of the incident.
The company said that an initial assessment by staff at the site showed no major structural damage and the impact was contained in a metal tapping area.
Glencore said in a statement that “The rest of the operation is in a steady state, however, production remains on hold.”
It said that there were no injuries or impact to the environment.
Glencore holds a 49% interest in Koniambo and New Caledonia firm Societe Minière du Sud Pacifique 51%.
The plant, designed to yield 60,000 tonne of nickel a year at peak output, was officially opened by French President Mr Francois Hollande last month.
Koniambo produced 8,600 tonnes of nickel in ferronickel in the third quarter, according to Glencore’s latest corporate production report.
New Caledonia, off north-eastern Australia, holds as much as a quarter of the world’s known nickel reserves and employs more than 6,000 people in processing the ore. Nickel is a key industry for New Caledonia, accounting for around 20% of its economic output.
Operations at the rival Goro nickel processing plant in New Caledonia owned by Vale of Brazil were suspended for three weeks earlier this year after some 100,000 litres of acid-tainted effluent leaked out.
Source – Reuters
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