The plant in Skouriotissa, about 30km west of the island nation’s capital, Nicosia, is thought to be on the site of the world’s oldest copper mine. It was expected to reach output of 44,000 tonnes per year of laterite ore, containing 10,000 tpy of nickel, the company said on Monday August 2.
Product from the plant will be handled by Swiss trader Arrow Metals, which has a tolling agreement to supply laterite nickel and recieve battery-ready sulfate.
With increasing production of electrically powered vehicles, automotive battery producers are on the lookout for new sources of nickel in sulfate form for use in batteries.
The rush for nickel can be seen in the growing seaborne market for the product. Fastmarkets’ nickel sulfate premium, cif China, Japan and Korea, was $3,000 per tonne on August 2, compared with $2,400 per tonne in April.