Cuba’s nickel industry is looking to expand its strip mines

Cuba’s nickel industry is looking to expand its strip mines

Heavy trucks are seen at an area used by the nickel plant Pedro Soto Alba in the eastern city of Moa, Cuba, June 10, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

HAVANA, Nov 11th Cuba’s nickel industry is looking to expand its strip mines in search of this precious metal. According to Juan Ruiz Quintana, the managing director of Mining at the Ministry of Mines and Energy, “geological studies to discover new areas rich in this and other metals” are underway.

The official is currently just took part in an international forum on the nickel and cobalt industry that China organizes every year, which was held through Thursday in the city of Guangzhou, in the southern Guangdong province.

According to Prensa Latina, Ruiz Quintana presented an analysis of this sector’s current state in Cuba at this event, including the current conditions of Cuba’s nickel industry and prospects for investment.

Besides Moa’s nickel mine, Cuba currently has a project in the works in San Felipe, Camaguey where there are over 300 million tons of nickel, according to the managing director of Mining, and another smaller mine in Cajalbana, Pinar del Rio with approximately 50 million tons.

On the contrary, experts within the sector told official media, in July, that at the current rate of extraction, national reserves would only last for about 18 to 20 years, and so the Ernesto Che Guevara nickel plant’s (Moa, Holguin) immediate plans “aren’t about growth, but about looking for more efficient metal extraction methods so as to reduce production costs.”

Days later, at the Mariel Special Development Zone, Holland’s vice-minister of Foreign Trade, Guido Landheer, mentioned “some setbacks in the Cuban economy due to low nickel prices” on the global market.

From 52,000 USD per metric ton recorded in 2007, prices fell to an average of less than 10,000 USD in 2016, with maybe a small increase this year.

Cuban nickel production continues to decline and it will try to produce 54,500 tons this year (2017), which represents a quarter less of what it used to produce at its peak.

According to IPS, this decline is the result of the Rene Ramos Latour plant being shut down in 2012 and damages caused at the Ernesto Che Guevara plant by hurricanes, which is also limited because of its out-dated equipment.

Nevertheless, at the end of August 2017, Cuba had 468 mining concessions in force: 4 permits, 32 for geological studies, 273 for extraction, 132 for extraction and processing and 27 for processing.

With information of Havana Times