Venezuela restarts nickel output at asset taken over from Anglo
By Silvia Antonioli
LONDON Dec 17 (Reuters) - Venezuela has restarted production from the Loma de Niquel ferronickel asset it took from mining giant Anglo American in 2012 after cancelling its licenses, data from an industry body showed this week.
Information on Venezuela is patchy but the International Nickel Study Group (INSG) numbers indicated that the country produced 2,700 tonnes of nickel in the first 10 months of this year, after producing nothing in 2013.
Loma de Niquel is Venezuela's sole nickel producing asset. At full capacity it would produce almost 1 percent of the world's nickel output.
Diversified miner Anglo had a 91.4 percent stake in Loma de Niquel until 2012, when the Venezuelan government under late president Hugo Chavez cancelled 13 of its concessions and refused to renew three others, forcing the company to abandon its operations in the country.
Nickel production from Venezuela fell from 8,100 tonnes in 2012 to nothing in 2013. In 2011 it had produced over 14,000 tonnes.
The data shows that production resumed at a rate of 200 tonnes per month in January and increased to 300 tonnes per month from April.
Although this is still much below capacity, the restart and increase in production is a positive sign for the once buoyant Venezuelan mining sector, which has been struggling with lack of investment, labour issues and outdated technology.
INSG, an intergovernmental organisation, said its data is estimated and provisional. Continuación...