Xstrata Nickel’s Koniambo laterite nickel project in the North Province of New Caledonia tapped its first nickel metal in early April 2013. The start of production marked a key milestone for the complex, $5-billion greenfield project, which has been under construction for the past six years.

Xstrata Nickel holds a 49% interest in the Koniambo project. Société Minière du Sud Pacifique, the development arm of the North Province of New Caledonia, is its 51% joint venture partner.

Ian Pearce, chief executive of Xstrata Nickel, said, “All components of the mining and smelting process have now been successfully tested, leading to production of metal from Line 1. The production of first nickel metal at Koniambo after six years of complex design and construction is a huge achievement and a source of great pride for all of our employees. We are on track to deliver the full production rate of 60,000 mt/y by the end of 2014 as scheduled.”

Once construction is complete, the Koniambo project will include a mine, a pyrometallurgical nickel smelting plant, a power plant, and other complementary infrastructure, including a deep-water private port and an 11-km overland conveyor.

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