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Sumitomo mulls building nickel plant in Philippines


October 15, 2008

Sumitomo mulls building nickel plant in Philippines
Japan's Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd is considering building a $1.7 billion nickel processing plant in the southern Philippines, despite global financial market turmoil, Reuters quoted company officials as saying Tuesday.

If approved, the high pressure acid leaching plant in the province of Surigao del Norte, with a capacity of 30,000 tonnes of contained nickel per year, will be one of the biggest foreign investments in the Philippines.

"At the moment our costing shows $1.7 billion for the 30,000 tonnes," Takanori Fujimura, president of Sumitomo's local unit Coral Bay Nickel Corp, told Reuters on the sidelines of a mining conference.

He added that the Japan Bank for International Cooperation could finance up to 70 percent of the investment.

The financial crisis has made it much harder and costlier for companies to secure debt financing and driven the prices of commodities including metals sharply lower.

Gerard Brimo, president and CEO of Nickel Asia Corp, which hopes to take a 20-30 percent stake in the project, said the plant will use ore from the Taganito mine.

"We are expecting that Sumitomo will shortly give the go-ahead for the project in spite of the difficult conditions we are experiencing," he told Reuters.

"We are waiting for an announcement from them that I hope will come by the end of October."

Sumitomo is also doubling capacity at another nickel processing plant on the western island of Palawan to 20,000 tonnes of contained nickel per year, Brimo added. Nickel Asia is also a partner in this project.

"These two plants will supply 7 percent of the world's nickel output."

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