Update your knowledge about Nickel Alloys

6 June 2008

Nickel alloys to cut emissions

A German consortium is testing the endurance of high-strength nickel alloys for use in critical components for power plants. These would enable coal-fired plants to increase the steam temperature in their boilers and turbines to 700C, cutting carbon emissions. The consortium includes RWE Power, metallic alloy producer ThyssenKrupp VDM, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials in Freiburg. They are developing computer simulation methods for critical power plant components based on expertise developed for the automotive industry. Computer simulation is expected to produce more reliable results than laboratory testing because it can take into account different loading conditions over the 20-year life of the components. To conduct the computer simulations, researchers must first test the materials in the laboratory to extract the behavioural characteristics. Researchers will be able to identify possible weaknesses in the geometry of the parts and develop alternatives. This is anticipated to help with the construction of more environmentally-friendly power plants.

27 May 2008

Philippines: nickel project

BHP Billiton of Australia will honor its agreement with local partner Asiaticus Management Corp. to develop a USD 1.5 billion nickel project in Davao Oriental province in Philippines despite delays. BHPB has not conducted a pre feasibility study focusing on the Pujada peninsula in Davao Oriental. The area has an estimated nickel reserve capacity of 150 million tonnes at 1.3% concentration. The nickel processing plant is expected to have an annual capacity of 50,000tns.

22 May 2008

CSA capacity increase

Nickel pig iron producer China Steel Australia Ltd (CSA) expects to treble production capacity by January 2009. The Singapore-based China Steel Australia expects to achieve revenue of USD 21.1 million for 2007-08. Mr Damien Seah chairman of China Steel Australia said that a threefold USD 92 million expansion of the company's processing plant in China's Shandong Province would significantly increase revenue and earnings for 2009-10. Mr Lanson Hung Lim director of CSA said that the additional capacity would be taken up by existing and new customers. He added that "The first trial batch of nickel pig iron would be produced from the enlarged plant in October 2008, which could be shown as samples to prospective customers. Only then can we secure future contracts."

19 May 2008

Proposed nickel concentrate plant redesign

Poseidon Nickel may redesign the proposed nickel concentrate plant at its Mt Windarra project to enable metal refining. Mr David Singleton CEO of Poseidon Nickel said that building a refinery at the site in Western Australia would allow Poseidon to benefit fully from prices on the London Metal Exchange, as concentrate fetches about 35% less than metal. Mr Singleton added that a decision on the revised plant would be made by the end of the year.

8 May 2008

Russia: melting complex

Mechel OAO (Russia) has announced that its subsidiary, Southern Urals Nickel Plant OAO, and Bateman Engineering have signed a contract on the construction of a new melting complex for Mechel’s nickel plant. The contract, which is signed in accordance with the investment program of Southern Urals Nickel Plant, provides fundamental re-equipment of the plant and includes the design and supply of a 12MW DC furnace. The furnace will be erected at Southern Urals Nickel’s existing facility. The total project value is USD 31 million. The fixed price contract will be performed against a defined scope of work for small-scale industrial furnace-complex equipment for the production of ferronickel. The contract will also include a basic engineering package for the entire process plant and detailed design and supply of the core technology equipment for the 12MW DC furnace. Work is expected to commence in the nearest months and the project is due to be completed by the end of 2009.

15 April 2008

NS825 nickel-based pipe

The Panchanggang steel tube company has successfully trial-produced NS825 nickel-based corrosion resisted alloy extrusion pipe. At present, NS825 nickel-based corrosion resistant alloy extrusion pipe is mainly used in the oil refining industry. In China, these products all depend on import. If the exploitation of NS825 nickel-based corrosion resisted alloy extrusion pipe is successful, it can not only fill the technical blank on the production of high alloy materials, but also generate tremendous economic benefits for enterprises.

14 April 2008

ConvaTech awarded contract

ConvaTech has commenced its first international project, having been awarded a contract by Goro Nickel SAS for the installation and splicing of the overland conveyor belt for its new nickel processing plant in New Caledonia. The ConvaTech team commenced work on the 15th of January 2007, with the project expected to take six weeks to complete. The project for Goro Nickel SAS involves the mobilization of all labor and equipment from Newcastle to project, manage and complete the work. The overland conveyor belt is ST2250 x 1200mm wide and is 6km long. The scope of work included the development of the methodology to install the conveyor belt as well as design and construction of specific hydraulic and manual belt clamps, belt stands and installation equipment, and the design of civil foundations to support the larger equipment.

Nickel iron foundry

The Venezuela government has approved funding to build an iron and nickel foundry with Cuba. Cuba is among the world's largest producers of nickel, which is used to make stainless steel. Venezuela and Cuba signed an agreement last year to produce stainless steel using Cuban nickel a project slated to involve some USD 1.1 billion in joint investment. But Mr Chavez did not say that how much money it would take to build the foundry or where it would be located.

7 April 2008

Murray Metals acquires

Murray Metals Group (MMG) has confirmed the acquisition of Hillfoot Steel Group in Sheffield. Hillfoot Steel Group Ltd, which operates in the oil and gas and engineering industries, has 187 employees and an annual turnover of GBP 43 million. Its Oil & Gas division comprises the Hytemp business, which supplies nickel alloy forgings and bars to wellhead manufacturers and their suppliers and The Forge business, which offers a complementary forging capability. Hytemp’s products are predominately used in the global sub-sea sector. The Stockholding division, based in Sheffield and Washington, Tyne and Wear, has a throughput of 18,000tpa and includes an engineered-components supply business, Precision Components. Graeme Hill, Chief Executive of Murray Metals Group, said the acquisition - for an undisclosed sum - would enable MMG to broaden its products and services in oil and gas and stockholding and underlined its strategic ambitions in these key markets. MMG is the UK’s largest independent steel stockholder and processor of both general steel and specialist metals.


Hand-held XRF analyzer

Oxford Instruments has announced the launch of a new X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer - the X MET5000, for identification of metal alloys. The X MET5000, which represents the 4th generation of Oxford Instruments’ hand-held analyzers, is designed with Oxford Instruments’ patented PentaFET® detector technology. The X-MET5000 quickly and accurately measures Nickel even in concentrations below 1%. The same instrument can be loaded with both a metals analysis program and plastic analysis program making it suitable for the recycling industry. An analytical program for precious metals analysis is also available. The X-MET5000’s major strength is the Light Element Treatment mode, enabling fast and accurate analysis of the matrix elements even when the sample contains light elements like aluminum and silicon. This tool is IP54 (NEMA 3) approved for superior dust and splash protection. The battery’s operating time is one working day and enables extended productivity in the yard. An optional bench-top stand enables hands-free operation for multi-tasking without the loss in confidence in measurement results.

6 April 2008

Nickel expansion approved

Perth-based nickel miner Minara Resources Ltd has announced that it has received in principle approval from its board for an AUD 300 million heap leach expansion project. This will see the expansion of the company's heap leach project deliver 8000 to 10,000tns of nickel per annum. The additional capacity will come on stream progressively from late 2009.The expansion plans include adding a further five heap leach pads which will enable the company to expand up to 1 million tonne per annum under leach, installing a large liquor pre-heating circuit and enhancing the existing iron rejection circuit.

1 April 2008

PNG Ramu nickel project

Australia-based Highlands Pacific Ltd and its joint venture partner, MCC Ramu NiCo Ltd will start large-scale construction at the Ramu Nickel Project in Papua New Guinea within 3 months. About USD 200 million has already been committed or spent on the USD 1.37 billion project, the financing for which will be finalized within the next three months subject to approval from the Chinese government. The Ramu Nickel project is part owned by a Chinese syndicate. About 40% of the project cost will be financed by Chinese banking institutions, 30% will come via a shareholder loan from the Chinese syndicate and the rest as shareholder equity. This means the project is being financed by 30% equity and 70% debt, which is to be repaid over 10 years. The Chinese syndicate comprising MCC-JJJ Mining Development Co. owns 100% of MCC Ramu NiCo Ltd, which in turn holds 85% of the Ramu project. Highlands has an 8.56% interest in the Ramu project, which will increase to 11.30% at no cost to the company after repayment of its part of the debt.

25 March 2008

BHP nickel purchase

BHP Billiton has agreed to buy 100% of contained nickel from the Lucky Break Nickel Project in Queensland, owned by Australia-based Metallica Minerals and its joint venture partner Metal Finance Corp. The contained nickel produced from the project will be refined at BHP Billiton's Yabulu nickel refinery near Townsville in north Queensland. Metallica said that under the agreement, BHP Billiton will buy 1500 to 1800tpy of contained nickel for the life of the operation, based on an agreed percentage of London Metal Exchange prices for the metal, but it did not disclose the percentage amount. Construction of the Lucky Break project has started and it is expected to be commissioned end 2008.

17 March 2008

O'Neal Steel acquires

O'Neal Steel Inc. has acquired Southern Nickel and Titanium, a metals distributor based in Houston, USA. Southern Nickel and Titanium is a distributor of nickel titanium alloy and stainless steel. It will be folded into O'Neal subsidiary Aerodyne Alloys, which is based at South Windsor in Connecticut.

27 February 2008
Annealing and pickling line

Baoshan Iron & Steel Co. Ltd has placed an order with SMS Demag for the supply of a continuous annealing line and a continuous pickling line for hot and cold strip as well as a 20 roll cold mill. These facilities will process strips made of special grades such as nickel and titanium-based alloys and special stainless steels. They will go into operation in Shanghai in early 2010. In view of the demanding, high performance materials, a flexible plant configuration was chosen for the annealing and pickling lines. The usual coupled arrangement of annealing and pickling was dispensed with. Instead, separate annealing and pickling lines were installed which can process cold and hot strip. Each of the two lines is designed for an annual production of around 160,000tns. The 20 roll cold mill rolls the annealed and pickled strips down from their maximum entry gages of 7.1mm to minimum final gages of 0.3mm. The strip widths are in the range of 600 to 1300mm. The strips produced on the lines are used in the manufacture of tubes and pipes, boilers and pressure vessels and in shipbuilding, mechanical engineering, steel building construction and bridge-building. The steel produced satisfies the stringent requirements relating to anticorrosion and anti-wear properties.

22 February 2008

Nickel complex

Russian Copper Co. plans to invest USD 160 million in a complex to produce nickel in the Urals region of Chelyabinsk from 2009. The design capacity of the plant to produce nickel metal, a vital component of stainless steel is expected to be 7000tpy. Russian Copper Co. said it plans to launch the first stage of the complex in 2009. It said the company has already started building a mine and an ore enrichment plant, Uralgidronikel at the Kulikovskaya group of nickel and cobalt deposits.

29 January 2008

Nickel imports update

Chinese nickel imports are expected to be flat in 2008, as a weaker global economy keeps nickel demand in check while nickel pig iron continues to provide stainless steel makers with an alternative raw material. China's refined nickel and alloy imports rose 8% in 2007, to 105,300tns, while exports fell by 25% to 16,930tns, official customs data showed on 22 January 2008. Matte imports also rose by nearly 8%. Imports of nickel, mainly used in stainless steel production, dropped in the second half of 2007, due to increasing use of nickel pig iron, a cheaper alternative raw material. Only one third of the nickel used in the stainless steel industry in China is now from refined nickel, with the rest from steel scrap and nickel pig iron, industry sources say. But if nickel prices fell below USD 25,000, prices of nickel pig iron would become less attractive and users would switch to nickel, traders said. Projections for next year's nickel demand take place against the backdrop of a possible bid by Brazilian miner Vale for Australian miner Xstrata, which could create a giant controlling about 30% of the world's refined nickel.

20 December 2007

Vale Inco boosts nickel production

Vale Inco intends to boost nickel production significantly at its Sudbury division in Ontario next year. Vale Inco said this will be achieved by foregoing the usual annual maintenance shutdown, which will be pushed back to May 2009. Mr Fred Stanford, president of the Sudbury division, told a local mining association that the company intends to lift divisional production by 54 million pounds to 298 million pounds in 2008.


19 December 2007

4E turning geometry

ATI Stellram has specifically designed the 4E turning geometry to meet the demands of machining aerospace type components, manufactured from high nickel, high cobalt and titanium-based alloys. Available in new grade SP0819, 4E inserts utilize an approved aerospace substrate, and are enhanced with a Nano TiAIN layer PVD coating. The 4E features a combination of a new super-hard coating with micro-grain carbide substrate for heat and wear resistance in high temperature alloy machining, enabling longer tool life and higher productivity; a precise reinforced chipbreaker profile with positive cutting action for reducing built-up edge, leaving a smooth surface finish and greater component dimension integrity; and the 4E turning geometry is designed to machine a wide variety of materials including stainless steels, high nickel, high cobalt and titanium-based alloys.

3 December 2007

Corrosion free Ni-based alloy

Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd has established a technology to prevent corrosion and has developed a nickel-based alloy to which the technology is applied. The technology prevents severe corrosion that occurs at high temperature in the process for manufacturing environmentally friendly liquid fuels from natural gas. It also significantly improves the efficiency of plants that produce the fuels. Sumitomo Metals calls the new technology Surfactant Mediated Resistance technique. The technology can restrain the dissociative adsorption of a carbon monoxide molecule in syngas environments.

29 November 2007

CVRD Inco changes name

CVRD Inco Ltd has announced that it will now be known as Vale Inco Ltd. The change is aligned with the re-branding of its parent company, Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, to Vale, announced earlier in Rio de Janeiro. “Vale” is pronounced (vah-lay) and literally means “valley”. The Company says a similar re-branding will unfold in the weeks and months ahead at its subsidiary companies, including Canadian-based Voisey’s Bay Nickel Co., which is adopting the name Vale Inco Newfoundland and Labrador Ltd.

1 November 2007

Nickel market will make comeback

According to market participants, the physical nickel market could be set for a comeback on increased buying activity and more stable prices on the London Metal Exchange. Although stocks are at seven-year highs, traders have reported more enquiries during week 43 and stainless steel mills have noted some resurgence in demand. “The market is turning a little bit, it is just doing it very, very slowly - it’s still a nervous market. It is turning but people don’t want to blow the horn too early on when it’ll happen,” said one trader. The collapse in nickel prices in June from highs over USD 51,000 per tonne to lows close to USD 25,000 left traders holding large stocks while prices and premiums dropped. Both stainless steel producers and traders said that there are signs demand could be returning and that the worst is over for nickel. Senior executives at ThyssenKrupp and Outokumpu noted the underlying demand in stainless steel and have forecasted a strong 2008 in presentations during week 43, while traders said that they are beginning to see a modest recovery in their primary nickel business.

23 October 2007

Indonesia: nickel plant

Eramet has awarded Technip a contract for the engineering studies and the general contracting services for a laterite treatment plant on the island of Halmahera, in Indonesia. The contract covers the treatment plant and associated infrastructures. The plant will be based on a hydro-metallurgic process developed by Eramet and will produce around 60,000tns of nickel and 3500tns of cobalt per year. The total investment on the project should amount to USD 2 billion. The plant is expected to come on stream in 2013. Technip’s operating centers in Paris (France), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and Jakarta (Indonesia) will execute this contract.

27 September 2007

Nkomati expansion approved

African Rainbow Minerals Ltd and Norilsk Nickel, 50:50 JV owners of the Nkomati Nickel Mine in the Mpumalanga Province in South Africa, have announced the approval of a USD 445 million Phase 2 Large Scale Mining Expansion to increase average annual nickel production to 20,500tns from 5500tns and extend the life of the mine by 18 years to 2027.


Norilsk and Mincom sign agreement

Mincom, a global software and services provider to mining and metals industries, has announced that it has signed a new large-scale long-term contract with nickel producer, MMC Norilsk Nickel (Norilsk). Under this agreement, Mincom Ellipse is assigned as the standard solution for mining and metallurgical sites of Norilsk’s Polar Division, located in Norilsk. Mincom Ellipse will be implemented to manage operational activities in underground mining and above-ground management areas and workshops, and will provide real-time visibility of operational and financial metrics across the organization. Accordingly this solution will support Norilsk in making optimal management decisions.

17 September 2007

Nickel price heads north

Nickel rose for a fourth consecutive day in London, during week 37, on improved demand from stainless steel makers, which have started buying after previously putting off purchases when nickel prices were near a record. Nickel for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange gained USD 400 or 1.4% to USD 28,300 a ton as of 10:49AM local time. A close at that price would give the metal a 4.8% gain for the week. Stockpiles of nickel monitored by the LME rose 2.8% to 29,190tns. They have gained more than fivefold since nickel climbed to a record.

7 September 2007

Arcos 617 wire

Arcos Industries LLC has introduced the bare wire and covered electrode versions of Arcos 617, which are primarily used to weld nickel-chromium-molybdenum base material as well as joining various dissimilar high temperature alloys. Arcos 617 (ERNiCrCoMo-1) bare wire offers oxidation resistance above 1500F. It is designed for TIG, MIG and submerged arc welding. This wire can also be used for overlay welding where a similar chemistry is desired. Arcos 617 wire is well suited for high temperature applications such as heat exchangers, furnace components, gas turbine parts and pipelines. It is designed to withstand pitting corrosion and stress-corrosion cracking.

29 August 2007

NiFe Alloy 36 plate products

Rolled Alloys, has announced the addition of NiFe Alloy 36 to their inventory in Temperance, Michigan, USA. Rolled Alloys inventory of Alloy 36 ranges in size from 3/16in through 2in plate thickness. Other sizes are available upon application. NiFe Alloy 36 is a 36% nickel - balance iron alloy used for composite tooling applications. This alloy is used for aircraft composite tooling for graphite and resin applications.

8 August 2007

Nickel production to double

Xstrata Nickel said that its Raglan nickel mine, located in one of the worldwide nickel belts, is expected to have double the output in 5 years. The company plans to invest some USD 200 million in this mine.

7 August 2007

Nickel price lowers alloy surcharges

As the price of nickel continues to decline on the LME, EU mills have decided to reduce their alloy surcharge by around EUR 600/tn for September deliveries. The Nickel price on the LME fell to USD 29,000/tn, with its lowest level to USD 28,850/tn on 3 August. Alloy surcharges in Europe have reduced for 2 consecutive months in a row.

1 August 2007 

Nickel prices fall on LME

According to Meps, western stainless steel producers of strip mill products have temporarily abandoned their traditional basis plus surcharge mechanism for selling their material. Most EU and US mills are now quoting only transaction (effective) figures. This is, principally, to disguise the discounts necessary to obtain orders after the fall in the price of nickel since early June. Technically, surcharges for grade 304 increased by around 5% and 3% in the EU and US, respectively, in July. With the prospect of them falling over the next two months by almost EUR 750 and USD 1400 per tonne it is not surprising that customers are refusing to pay the current inflated figures. The alloy surcharge is almost meaningless in negotiations at this time. Mill orders have dried up. Many producers have plans to cut output in the short term but are pushing material into stock and selling at substantially discounted levels to generate the limited business available. Western stainless steelmakers are reluctant to give up the alloy surcharge mechanism which has served them well over the last decade. They continue to publish official figures for July and August deliveries, despite the fact that they will not be used for most deals. As a result, Meps will be publishing the quoted surcharge values in their tables.

25 July 2007

Nickel market update

According to Meps, the stainless steel market has been in a state of flux for most of 2007. EU mills started to cut production. The Chinese took similar action. Producers have been seeking alternative sources of nickel units. They have also been promoting nickel free steels. Customers are testing substitute stainless grades. All this frantic activity was required because the LME cash price for nickel was pushed ever higher and reached a figure of over USD 52,000 per tonne in May. The performance of nickel on the LME was defying traditional market fundamentals. Stocks were rising, stainless steel output growth was in reverse and the percentage of nickel usage went into decline. Despite these negative factors, the LME nickel price continued to increase until June 2007, when the exchange intervened. It modified the lending guidance for nickel. This is an instrument to prevent trading from becoming disorderly. The result of the LME's action is a decrease in the cash price of nickel from its high last month to below USD 37,000 on 21 June. This will result in the EU alloy surcharge for 304 cold rolled coil rising in July by EUR 134 and falling over the following two months by a total of EUR 739 per tonne. Equivalent figures in the US were USD 154 and USD 1422.

12 July 2007


MMC Norilsk Nickel conforms

MMC Norilsk Nickel is through the second compliance audit of its Integrated Quality Control and Environmental Management System (IQCEMS) held by Bureau Veritas Certification, an independent certification organization. The compliance audit checked compliance with international standards but also the expansion of the expanded scope of IQCEMS and its applications by means of integration with existing and emerging quality control and environmental management systems of the Company’s divisions located in the Norilsk Industrial Region. The audit criteria included ISO 9001:2000 and ISO 14001:2004 standards as well as the Company’s internal corporate management standards set forth taking into account the organizational restructuring of the Company that is currently in progress. The audited CIQCEMS encompasses operations of 49 divisions of MMC Norilsk Nickel including such industrial enterprises as Nickel Plant, Copper Plant and Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant. Head of the audit team Mr Vladimir Bondarenko noted in his final statement that the corporate integrated system of Norilsk Nickel with the scope of certification in Production, Project Management, Sales and Product Deliveries (nickel, cobalt, copper, precious metals, sulphur, selenium and tellurium) is efficient, maintained in the running order and in compliance with ISO 9001:2000 and ISO 14001:2004. Deputy General Director of MMC Norilsk Nickel and representative of Company management for CIQCEMS Mr Jacques Rozenberg said that this system was set up in order to meet market requirements and those of all stakeholders (consumers of products, shareholders, the government, the society and employees of the Company).

18 June 2007

India: nickel alloy plant

According to managing director Nitan Chhatwal, stainless steel long products’ maker, the Viraj Group of India, plans to build a nickel alloy plant to ensure supplies for its operations. The in-house capacity would be 25,000t/y, he said. The group is also looking to acquire nickel ore mining rights in the Philippines to ensure supplies for its planned expansion. India’s largest producer of stainless steel long products, Viraj is building an 850,000t/y stainless steel flat products mill near Mumbai at a cost of USD 670 million. According to Chattwal, construction is scheduled to start within six months and the plant is expected to be operational by 2009.

14 June 2007

Stainless demand puts pressure on nickel market

Brazilian miner Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD) has recently said that the tight nickel market could see increased pressure in the years ahead if the Indian economy increases its use of the key stainless steelmaking ingredient. Mr Fabio Barbosa CFO of CVRD said that CVRD forecasts that nickel prices will remain elevated in a range between USD 40,000 and USD 45,000 a ton in 2008-09, unless the latent price pressures from India emerge. He added that demand has continued to rise as China, India and other developing markets increase their production of stainless steel, with few new nickel projects coming on line to ease the shortage. The imbalance between supply and demand should be maintained for several years, given that the current nickel projects under development won't be in operation until between 2009 and 2011. He said that CVRD plans to be the world's largest producer of nickel at a production of 500,000tpy by 2012. CVRD expects to produce 287,000tns of nickel in 2007, up from pro forma output of 251,000tns in 2006.

10 May 2007

Nickel hits new high

Nickel has hit a new high on the London Metal Exchange (LME) on 9 May of this year. Nickel for delivery in three months has risen by some 53% this year to touch a new all time high of USD 51,800pt but by mid session it fell back under USD 51,000 against the close of USD 51,200 on Tuesday. LME nickel stocks fell by 174tns to 4458tns, with only 3270tns available to the market, which is less than a day of global consumption.

2 May 2007

Nickel content in SS to decline

According to Meps (International) high nickel prices are prompting buyers of austenitic stainless steels to actively seek alternative grades or other materials. The benefits of life cycle costing are diminishing. However, much of the substitution is taking place within the stainless industry but coated carbon steels are under consideration. The ferritic steel (type 430) is becoming much more popular. Lower nickel, 200 series, products are also taking off. Mills around the world are now heavily promoting these as alternatives to the austenitic grades. Specifiers are no longer slavishly following past practices. Up to 2001, spikes in nickel on the LME were quite short lived - with average annual prices increasing for two years before slipping back again. This was insufficient time for the specifiers to undertake tests and change manufacturing procedures, etc. Since 2001, Meps has noted five consecutive annual rises in nickel, and predict 2007 to be the sixth. Average nickel prices this year will show a sevenfold rise over the past six years. The stainless industry has reached a watershed. Strong growth is assured but will be mainly through the promotion of the 200 and 400 series grades if nickel stays at recent elevated levels. When users modify production methods and materials they do not readily return to past practices.

1 May 2007

Goro nickel project a go

Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD) has signaled its confidence in the nickel market by granting final board approval for the USD 3.2 billion Goro laterite project in New Caledonia despite years of delays cost blow outs and disputes with locals. CVRD expects Goro will produce its first nickel by the end of next year or early 2009, with production eventually ramping up to 60,000tns a year.

12 April 2007

Outokumpu bags nickel order

Mirabela Nickel Ltd has announced that it has awarded the contract for the purchase of the SAG Mill and Ball Mill for its Santa Rita nickel sulphide project in Bahia State of Brazil to Outokumpu Technology Pty Ltd. The total value of the contract is USD 20.96 million. Expected delivery Ex Works is 85 weeks for the Ball mill and 90 weeks for the SAG mill, which is consistent with a schedule for commissioning of the project in early 2009.

3 April 2007

Vale Sudbury strike

Vale do Rio Doce, the world's biggest nickel producer, said that technical and office workers at its Sudbury operations in Canada have began a strike, which a union official estimated may cut output 25% amid record prices. The company and 330 workers, including clerical staff, surveyors and laboratory employees, at the Ontario site failed to agree on a new labour contract, Cory McPhee, a spokesman for Rio de Janeiro-based Vale, said on 3 April 2007. Sudbury produced 93,000 metric tons of nickel last year, down from 96,500tns in 2005. Nickel for delivery in three months jumped 6.2% last week to USD 44,800 a ton on the LME. It reached a record USD 48,500 on 16 March. Vale's complex in Sudbury includes six mining operations and a smelter, mill and nickel refinery, spokesman McPhee said.

28 March 2007

Nickel price rebounds

Nickel price rebounded on 27 March after a dip last week. Although this is just at the beginning of price recovering, it still gives positive signs for mills to bring up the stainless steel price. Last week the international nickel price fell sharply to USD 45,375/tn, while this week, it has come back to USD 45,700/tn on the 27th and will continue up to over USD 50,000/tn. Affected by the new nickel price, mills in both Taiwan and China are considering resettling the stainless price. Taiwan’s Yusco and Tang Eng Steel are very positive towards the rebounded nickel price and are likely to have a final decision of raising stainless steel price. Meanwhile, despite the nickel fluctuation, South Korea-based Posco has raised the stainless price twice and Japan-based NSSC also announced a price increase for their export and import prices by USD 340/tn.

26 March 2007

Low-nickel grade SS

Although nickel prices hit a record peak of USD 48,500 on 16 March, China’s demand for nickel may still rise by 20% in 2007 and output is likely to surge by 36%. China’s nickel consumption in 2007 will reach a new high of 300,000tns, compared to 250,000tns in 2006. The world’s top stainless steel producer and also largest user of nickel in China is expected to produce 7.2 million tones in 2007, against 5.3 to 5.6 million tonnes in 2006. High nickel prices will lead to new options for steel mills, namely to produce more low-nickel grades of 400 and 200 series. In 2006, China’s stainless steel production comprised 60% of 300 series, 22% of 400 series, 15% of 200 series, and 3% for others.

23 March 2007

Nickel falls 

Nickel, which posted new record highs in every trading day of week 11, has declined by some USD 4000 per tonne (pt) in week 12 alone and is some 10pct off an all time high of USD 48,500 set on 16 March 2007. At 11.28 am on 21 March 2007, LME nickel for 3 month was down at USD 43,220pt against USD 44,600 at the close on 20 March. While a nickel correction has been long overdue, prices are not expected to plunge as stocks remain critically low and as demand from the stainless steel industry, which accounts for 70% of nickel consumption, is still strong. JP Morgan analyst Michael Jansen said while nickel might yet make another run at the USD 50,000pt mark after this correction runs its course, on a longer term view he sees lower prices for the metal. "We see nickel prices substantially lower over the long term, our 2008 average price forecast for instance is around the USD 20,000 a tonne level, hence we remain bearish," he said.  

Metal X nickel project

Australian Metals X Ltd has announced that Jinchuan Group Ltd has agreed to assist it in developing its mineral assets including the Central Musgrave nickel project in Western Australia. The placement is subject to regulatory approvals in China. Metals X Ltd said under a framework agreement that Jinchuan has agreed to buy 117 million shares at AUD 0.28 each, which will see the Chinese company become Metal X's largest shareholder with 13% of the expanded capital and will raise a gross AUD 32.76 million. Metal X said Jinchuan has also agreed to provide technical assistance to minimize project development costs and support the construction and operation of the Central Musgrave project. Metal X added that it has agreed to grant Jinchuan off take rights for nickel produced at Central Musgrave and first right of refusal to purchase products from any other projects which Jinchuan participates in directly.

Nickel production increase planned

While speaking at the opening of the 2nd Cuban earth sciences convention Geociencias 2007 Ms Yadira Garcia, minister for basic industry of Cuba, said that Cuba is aiming to lift nickel production from 74,000tns in 2006 to 76,000tns in 2007. Expected higher production this year is likely going to result from the Moa joint venture between the Cuban government and Canada's Sherritt International. Sherritt said in its 2006 financial report that the first stage of a planned 3 stage expansion of Moa should see production of mixed nickel-cobalt sulphide increase by 4000tpy towards the end of this year. Finished metal production this year at Moa is expected to come in at 32,000tns, up from 30,200tns in 2006.

19 March 2007

Nickel prices continue to peak

At the end of week 11, nickel hit a new record because of tight supply and increasing production of stainless steel worldwide. The three-month nickel price on the LME soared to USD 48,500/tn on 16 March 2007, while cash prices reached USD 50,000/tn, over three times during the last 12 months, creating a peak historically last week as buyers assumed that supplies will be short indefinitely. The stainless steel industry, which consumes almost 70% of nickel consumption, continues to grow, but unfortunately the supply hasn’t seemed to increase at the same level with the demand. LME shows that nickel stocks dropped further last week to just over 3500 on 16 March. It is predicted that the nickel prices will go even higher with some alloy surcharges in May.

16 march 2007

Nickel prices soar

Nickel prices rose to a record high for the 4th consecutive day in London as stockpiles of the metal plunged thus increasing speculation that supply would not meet demand. Nickel for delivery in 3 months reached an intraday high of USD 47,890pt. Nickel inventories monitored by the London Metal Exchange fell by 5.8% to 3594tns, which is less than two days of global consumption. The main driver behind a higher consumption of nickel is the increase in global stainless steel production with China overtaking Japan as the world's largest stainless steel producer in 2006.


Indonesia: possible nickel plants

CVRD Inco’s majority owned PT International Nickel Indonesia is planning to build 2 nickel production units in Indonesia. Mr Arif Siregar, president of PT International Nickel, told local media that the plants would cost around USD 500 million each with construction likely to start in 2010. As per report, both plants are expected to have a capacity of about 18,000tns of nickel per year.

8 March 2007

Acoje nickel project
Australia-based Rusina Mining Ltd is set to become a nickel producer within months under a financing and mining contract announced for part of its lucrative Acoje project in the Philippines. The deal will see 5 million tonnes of Acoje's surface nickel laterites mined over the next five years under a profit sharing, partnering contract signed with one of Manila- based DMCI Holdings group. Rusina will share 50:50 with DMCI in all net profits from the sale of the mined laterites Nickel and Platinum Group Metals at Acoje. The contract commits DMCI to be responsible for all funding, mining, grade control, rehabilitation, road and port development work, as well as the marketing and sales obligations, for the agreed 5 million tonnes ore parcel.

2 March 2007

Nickel hits new high level

The three-month price of nickel has rocketed to USD 42,200/tn, increasing by 2% for USD 805/tn on 1 March 2007. The extremely strong demands on the current market for stainless steel raw material and low nickel stocks are the main reasons holding the nickel price continuously at the high level. Stocks of nickel on the LME fell by 228tns to 3282tns on 27 February 2007, but remain at less than one day for global consumption.

26 February 2007

Davao nickel plant investment

BHP Billiton Ltd will invest USD 1.5 billion in a 50,000tpa nickel processing plant in Davao Oriental in southern Philippines, where the mine area covering close to 12,000 hectares is estimated to have 150 million tonnes of nickel grade ore. Mr Angelo Reyes secretary environment and natural resources of Philippines said that BHP Billiton intends to start construction of the processing plant early next year with commercial operations slated by 2010.

23 February 2007
Barrick and Xstrata invest more in Kabanga

The Kabanga Nickel project in Western Tanzania in East Africa holds one of the world’s most attractive undeveloped nickel sulphide deposits with a total estimated resource of 9.7 million tons grading 2.37% nickel and a total estimated inferred resource of 36.3 million tons grading 2.8% nickel. The revised estimate represents a notable increase from the project’s previous estimate (inferred) of 26.4 million tons at 2.6% nickel. This is the background to the announcement of a further USD 95 million investment in the project by the 50/50 joint venture between Barrick Gold Corp. and Xstrata Nickel. The new investment follows the update to the preliminary resource estimate and marks the commencement of a pre-feasibility study to advance the Kabanga Nickel project. To date, Xstrata Nickel has completed over USD 50 million in expenditures to update the resource model for the project and preparation of an extensive scoping study. With nickel flirting with the USD 40,000pt record price levels in recent days (and dropping back as stocks build), it is not surprising that Greg Wilkins, Barrick’s President and CEO, was very positive about the project saying, ”Kabanga has the potential to become a world-class nickel sulphide deposit. The most recent resource has a compelling combination of size with high grades.”

13 February 2007

Halifax Harbour restoration

By 2010, three sewage treatment plants, made almost entirely of stainless steel, will help to restore Halifax harbour to its original purity. The USD 333 million Halifax Harbour Solutions Project will improve water quality dramatically while transforming a murky, foul-smelling waterway into what James Campbell, spokesperson for the project, calls “the jewel of the city.” At the heart of the project are three treatment plants being built by Degrémont Halifax, a division of Paris-based global water treatment giant Degrémont Suez. The material of choice for a great many of the pipes, pumps, screens, conveyors and other components of the treatment plants is nickel-containing stainless steel. Practically all the stainless used in the plants will be S30400, except for the last stages of the treatment process, when more corrosion-resistant S31600 is needed. Degrémont is building the treatment plants in partnership with Dexter Construction Co. Ltd. Dexter also has the USD 112 million contract to lay 20,000m of new sewer pipe to feed the plants. The Halifax plant will be in operation by spring 2007. The Dartmouth plant, on the opposite side of the harbour, will come on-stream in August of that year and be joined by the smaller Herring Cove plant, near the harbour’s mouth, in mid-2008. Tidal action will ensure a dramatic and almost immediate improvement in water quality.

8 February 2007


SMM to double capacity

According to a company official, Japan-based Sumitomo Metal Mining (SMM) will double its capacity at its Coral Bay Nickel Project in the Philippines when a new refinery comes on stream in 2009. Work could begin as soon as March 2007 on the USD 285 million expansion, which will double SMM’s capacity at the mine on Palawan island to 20,000tpy by 2009. SMM plans for the new refinery, which will be located beside the existing plant, to come on line in April 2009. It is to start building the second refinery at Coral Bay after receiving an environmental compliance certificate from the government. The second refinery will have a similar configuration to the existing plant. The Coral Bay Nickel Project uses high-pressure acid leaching technology which allows nickel to be produced from low-grade laterite ore, in contrast to conventional nickel production, which uses nickel sulphide ore or high-grade nickel oxide ore as a raw material.

30 January 2007

Xstrata strike timeline

Xstrata Sudbury and its union workers began negotiations on 11th December 2006 for a resolution ahead of the expiration of the current labour contract. During the week of 22 January, more than 1000 unionized workers voted 98% in favour of a work stoppage if a new labour agreement isn't reached. Xstrata, offered to raise miners' hourly pay by 60 Canadian cents in the first year of the contract and 20 cents in each of the second and third years. The union wants an hourly increase of CAD 1 in the first year and 75 cents in each of the following two years. Workers on average earn about CAD 25 an hour. The union rejected a CAD 8000 signing bonus the company offered. A strike at the Sudbury area mines, which Xstrata obtained when it bought Falconbridge Ltd in July, would compound a global shortage of nickel, which is used in stainless steel and has more than doubled in price during the past year. About 4% of the world's supply of nickel is processed at Xstrata's plants in the Sudbury area.

29 January 2007
Still no deal in Xstrata Sudbury
Labour negotiations at Xstrata Plc's nickel operations in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, will not resume "until at least 29 January," a union representative said on 26 January. Canadian Auto Workers union spokesman Richard Paquin, said the company has put its original offer back on the table minus the early signing bonus. The parties rejected each other's offers on 25 January and the union said talks have stalled since that time. On 25 January, Xstrata put forward an offer that included a cash bonus for early ratification, but the union rejected it and presented the company with a counter-offer. The company then withdrew its original offer. Now Swiss-based Xstrata will bring in its vice president of Xstrata Nickel into the talks, the union said. If the parties do not reach an agreement by the time the current contract expires at midnight 31 January, more than 1000 unionized mine workers would go on strike. Xstrata said talks will continue with the aim of reaching a contract agreement by 31 January. "Our team remains committed to reaching agreement by deadline," said Ian Hamilton, Xstrata Nickel's spokesman.

26 January 2007

Nickel reaches record highs

On 25 January 2007 nickel broke its previous record during London Metal Exchange’s ring trading as available stocks in exchange warehouses plummeted once more and concerns about supply grew. It hit a high of USD 38,798pt, basis three months, at 12:18pm London time, before settling at an official price of USD 38,000/050pt. The cash-to-three months backwardation was at USD 3300/500 after the official session ended.

Xstrata union approves strike mandate

Unionized workers at Xstrata PLC's nickel operations in Sudbury Ontario, Canada voted 98% in favour of a strike if a new labour agreement can't be reached by the end of the month. The more than 1000 members represented by Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) delivered the mandate to union leaders on 16 January 2007. CAW unit chair Richard Paquin said the union is still seeking details on how a proposed joint venture of Xstrata and CVRD Inco Ltd in the Sudbury region will affect its members. "So far the talks have been very, very slow," Mr Paquin said, adding that the two sides "haven't even touched monetary issues yet." Talks resumed on 17 January and extended into the weekend and the following Monday, the 22nd of January. The major sticking points, which include the contracting out of non-union members and a demand for full disclosure of the company’s plans to work with Brazilian-owned CVRD Inco in the Sudbury basin, have yet to be resolved.

17 January 2007 

Outokumpu to modernize flash smelter
Outokumpu Technology Oyj has signed a contract with nickel and PGM (Platinum Group Metals) producer MMC Norilsk Nickel for the modernization of a flash smelting production line at Nadezhda metallurgical plant in Norilsk, Russia. The value of the contract is some EUR 16 million. Outokumpu Technology's scope in the expansion and modernization project includes engineering, all the equipment and materials for flash smelting furnace No. 1, as well as installation and commissioning services. The renewed line will be operational by mid-2008.

14 December 2006 

Nickel deficit in January to October 2006

The Nickel market has recorded a deficit of 95kt in the first ten months of 2006 with reported stocks some 32kt lower. Mine production was, at 1146kt, 45% above the 2005 total. Refined production was fractionally below the comparable total for 2005 due mainly to reduced output in Oceania. World demand was 58kt higher than in the first ten months of last year. No allowance is made in the consumption calculation for unreported stock changes. In October, world production was 103.7kt and demand totalled 114.8kt.

4 December 2006


Nickel capacity increase

Brazil-based Votorantim has announced expansion of its nickel production with a 10,600tpy new nickel capacity in its ferronickel plant near its existing operations in the state of Goias. The project is to start production in 2009. Feed for the plant will come from the company’s existing nickel mine operated by subsidiary Niquel Tocantins. The new plant’s output will be directed exclusively to the export market.

29 November 2006

Ravensthorpe nickel project

BHP Billiton has announced the approval of increased capital costs for the Ravensthorpe nickel project to a total budget of USD 2.2 billion. Lower than expected labour productivity and late delivery of some materials and equipment at Ravensthorpe means that the target date for first metal ex-Yabulu from Ravensthorpe is now first quarter calendar year 2008. Construction at Ravensthorpe is now 73% complete with engineering and procurement activities now finalised and offsite fabrication 97% complete. The Yabulu refinery expansion is 87% complete and on schedule for mechanical completion by the end of calendar year 2006. Ravensthorpe Nickel is an integrated mine and primary processing facility now under construction at Ravensthorpe, Western Australia, located 570km by road from Perth and 155km west of Esperance. The project involves open pit mining from three adjacent ore bodies, and a hydrometallurgical process plant to treat both limonite and saprolite ores to produce up to 50,000tpa of contained nickel and 1400tns of contained cobalt in a mixed intermediate product for further processing at BHP Billiton’s Yabulu nickel refinery in Queensland, Australia.

20 November 2006

MMC Norilsk Nickel to acquire

OJSC Mining and Metallurgical Co. Norilsk Nickel has announced that is has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase the nickel business (the Nickel Business) of OM Group Inc. (OMG) for USD 408 million in cash, on a debt-free, cash-free basis. The Nickel Business is made up of the following assets: OMG’s nickel refining operations in Harjavalta, Finland with total annual production capacity of 60,000tns of nickel; OMG’s Cawse nickel mining and leaching operations in Western Australia, which supplies nickel carbonate to the Harjavalta refinery; OMG’s 20% stake in MPI Nickel Pty Ltd, which operates the Black Swan and Silver Swan nickel mines that supply nickel concentrate to the Harjavalta refinery, and is developing the Honeymoon Well project; and up to 11.1% of OMG’s holding of the common shares and convertible debt in Talvivaaran Kaivososakeyhtiö (a biological heap-leaching project in the Kainuu district in Finland). The transaction, which has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies, is subject to approval by regulatory authorities and customary closing conditions, and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2007.

13 November 2006

Nickel to become more expensive

Nickel prices will rise even higher next year, as the stronger-for-longer cycle continues, on robust demand, low stocks and a continued supply shortfall, according to Mr Robin Bhar, base metals strategist at UBS. In a bullish keynote speech at MB’s 22nd International Ferro-Alloys Conference, Mr Bhar predicted nickel prices will average some USD 23,700pt in 2007, up from an expected average this year of USD 23,149pt. He predicts the nickel market will remain in deficit next year on strong demand from China and India and increases in stainless steel capacity. Any delay to projects due to come on stream could push prices even higher than he has forecast. BHP Billiton has warned that costs for its Ravensthorpe project are already 30% over budget. Market consolidation, following Xstrata’s acquisition of Falconbridge and CVRD’s takeover of Inco, may also change the dynamics of the industry, he said. The two newly created major players will likely have a new attitude, new objectives, new strategy, which could improve nickel supplies but also lead to higher prices for longer.

27 October 2006

Hart bv at Adipec

Hart bv has been a distributor of heat & corrosion resistant materials for over 40 years. Nickel, Monel ®, Incoloy ®, Hastelloy ® and titanium alloys are supplied globally to the chemical, petrochemical and offshore industries. Complete packages of pipe, flanges/ forgings, plate, bar, fittings are supplied to fabrication companies, contractors, engineering companies, but also direct to the petrochemical companies. Global presence plays an important role in Hart bv business. To maintain and expand her position Hart bv yearly attends several international exhibitions around the world. This year in November Hart bv will attend the 12th Adipec, which will be held between 5 and 8 November in Abu Dhabi. The Adipec is a renowned exhibition for the oil and gas industry.

25 October 2006
CVRD takes over Inco
Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD) has announced, on 24 October, that it has acquired 75.7% of Inco Ltd's shares thus taking control of the Canadian nickel company to become one of the world's three biggest diversified miners with a leading position in nickel, iron ore, bauxite, alumina and manganese. CVRD also said that it has extended its all cash offer of CAD 86 a share until 3rd November to give it more time to obtain the remaining shares and will take steps to acquire them. The company plans to delist Inco shares from the New York and Toronto stock exchanges promptly. CVRD said that it will seek to reconstitute the Inco board of directors and delist the shares from the New York Stock Exchange and as soon as possible from the Toronto Stock Exchange. Once it has acquired sufficient shares, CVRD will drop Inco stock from markets, dissolve its board and seek to have the company begin reporting as a foreign private issuer under the US securities law.

20 October 2006
 Nickel business in Canada
CVRD has made commitments to the Canadian Minister of Industry to establish CVRD’s global nickel business CVRD Inco in Toronto with responsibility for the global nickel business of CVRD and a mandate to expand its business as a global leader in the nickel industry. CVRD has also announced that in furtherance of this mandate, CVRD will transfer management responsibility for its interest in existing and future nickel projects to CVRD Inco, including its interest in the Onça Puma and Vermelho projects in Brazil. CVRD Inco's global activities will be managed from its Toronto, Ontario head office, which will continue to exercise head office functions and activities with significant Canadian participation, including a Canadian COO and a majority of its senior management. There will be no layoffs at Canadian operating facilities for at least three years, and in any event total employment at such facilities will not fall below 85% of current levels.

12 October 2006 
Nickel rises to 19yr high
On the 9th of October, nickel prices rose to their highest in at least 19 years on the London Metal Exchange amid concern supply won't meet demand after inventories dropped to the lowest in more than two months. Stockpiles of nickel, a metal used to enhance the anti-corrosiveness of stainless steel, fell 8.2% to 4458 metric tons, the exchange said in a daily report, the lowest since 31 July. Nickel for delivery in three months rose as much as USD 750, or 2.5%, to USD 30,250 a ton, the highest since at least 1987. Inventories have slumped 88% this year, leading to a more than doubling of prices. The jump in nickel prices hasn't deterred stainless-steel producers, which account for two-thirds of demand for the base metal, the International Nickel Study Group said 6 October. Demand will jump 10% this year to 1.37 million tons, compared with 1.24 million tons last year, the Lisbon-based industry group said. It will rise to 1.45 million tons next year. Among other metals, copper for three-month delivery rose for the third straight day, by as much as USD 110, or 1.5%, to a one-week high of USD 7570 a ton. Aluminum for three-month delivery climbed USD 52, or 2%, to USD 2642 a ton. Zinc gained as much as USD 150, or 4.2%, to USD 3740 a ton, the highest since 31 May.

22 september 2006
Turkey Caldag project
UK-based junior mining company, European Nickel has secured a USD 175 million bank loan arranged by Standard Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and Societe Generale. The loan now makes a total of USD 300 million raised to bring the mining operation to production. The Caldag project is located near Izmir in western Turkey. It is designed to produce 20,400tns of nickel and 1200tns of cobalt per year in a mixed hydroxide product. The capital cost of the project is estimated to be USD 254 million and the full project development cost, which includes operating and other costs during the ramp up period, originally estimated at USD 310 million has now been estimated at the USD 300 million which has been raised by the company. European Nickel expects to start construction of the full scale plant this year with the first output of the mixed hydroxide product towards the end of 2007, following an estimated 12mth construction period for the precipitation plant.

21 september 2006

Nickel surcharge increases
The specialty alloys operations unit of Carpenter Technology Corp. has announced that it is changing its surcharge mechanism to increase the nickel premium component from USD .30/lb. to USD .38/lb. The company said that strong market demand for nickel-based superalloys and stainless products have contributed to nickel premiums rising to exceptional levels. The change in the surcharge will go into effect with shipments beginning 1 October 2006.

7 september 2006

Finland: nickel project
South Korea plans to launch a joint nickel and copper development project in Finland with the world's No. 2 nickel company Inco Ltd. The state-run Korea Resource Corp. (KRC), together with Canadian nickel producer Inco, has begun exploration to assess the amount of nickel and copper deposits in Inari, Finland, according to the KRC. The project is a 45-55 venture between KRC and Inco.

30 August 2006

Nippon Seisen to increase SS wire prices
JMB has reported that Osaka-based stainless steel wire maker Nippon Seisen will increase the price of nickel series stainless wire by JPY 110,000p/t for September order or October shipment to cover the increased cost of material wire rod and other materials. As per report, Nippon Seisen will also increase the chrome series wire price by JPY 15,000.

14 August 2006

Botswana: nickel refinery
Toronto-based LionOre Mining International Ltd has announced that it has received approval from the government of Botswana to start building a USD 620 million nickel refinery at the Tati Mine that it has been developing for nine years. LioOre will own 85% stake and balance 15% will be owned by the Botswana government. The bulk of the expansion will be on building a base metals refinery (USD 482 million) and a dense media separation plant (USD 114 million).

17 July 2006

Philippines: nickel project
A Chinese group led by Jinchuan Group Ltd is expected to soon open a nickel refinery in the Philippines to capitalize on the present record high price of the metal. Jinchuan, Baosteel Group Corp and China Development Bank have signed a MoU with the Philippine government and Philnico Industrial Corp to resolve debt issues over the long closed Nonoc plant. The project is expected to commence soon.

7 July 2006

Rio Tinto nickel project
The Indonesian government is promising tax breaks and "smooth sailing" through its bureaucracy to encourage Rio Tinto to commit to the development of its proposed USD 1 billion Sampala nickel project in Sulawesi, the Australian Financial Review Board reported, citing a government official. The chairman of Indonesia's Investment Co-ordinating Board, Muhammad Lufti, said Rio Tinto's application to develop the project is about 80% complete and his office is working on several ways to sweeten the deal through tax incentives. The senior bureaucrat promised them to help finalize a contract of work within the next few months, XFN-Asia reported quoting the newspaper. La Sampala, in central Sulawesi, contains two laterite nickel deposits covering more than 60 sq km.

6 June 2006

Indonesia: nickel project
France-based metals producer Eramet is wasting no time in developing its newly acquired Halmahera nickel project in Indonesia at an estimated cost of USD 1.5 billion. Once operational in 3-4 years’ time, Eramet says it expects this ferro-nickel operation to produce around 60,000t/y of contained nickel. The project was acquired through the company’s recent purchase of Canada-based junior Weda Bay.

31 May 2006

Precision Castparts completes acquisition
Precision Castparts Corp. has completed the acquisition of Special Metals Corp. (SMC), a manufacturer of high-performance nickel-based alloys and super alloys. The acquisition of SMC, a cash transaction funded through the Company’s credit facilities, will provide Precision Castparts Corp. (PCC) with an internal supply of nickel-based billet for its Forged Products operations, as well as strengthening and diversifying PCC’s sales profile.

24 May 2006

Philippine nickel project set to go ahead
China’s Baosteel and Jinchuan Group look set to make a start on their USD 950 million nickel mining project in the Philippines in partnership with the Philippine Nickel Corp. (Philnico) by the end of 2006, Steel Business Briefing (SBB) learns from a Jinchuan official. A debt dispute between Philnico and the Philippine government has recently been solved - with the investors to pay the government USD 270 million over the coming 25yrs – SBB understands from the Jinchuan official. (The Philippine government provided USD 325 million as part of a failed attempt to reactivate the nickel project in the 1980s, as previously reported.) While declining to disclose how this payment will be divided among the three project sponsors, the Jinchuan official tells SBB that the project, in the southern Philippines, is scheduled to come on-stream in 2008. In April 2005, Baosteel and Jinchuan signed a letter of intent with Philnico to restart the Nonoc nickel project with aim of producing at least 40,000tns/yr of concentrate.

17 May 2006

Jinchuan to set nickel price
Jinchuan Group, China's largest nickel smelter, has placed a price cap on all nickel products to sales agents since the end of April in a bid to retain customers as the nickel price soars to record highs. As the largest nickel consumer in the world, China's nickel consumption dropped 15.6% in the first two months this year. Imports of refined nickel in the first quarter even decreased 25.7% to 20,144 tons. The Nickel cash price on the London Metals Exchange was USD 20,150 per ton and the three-month price was USD 19,800 per ton on 26 April, which are highest recorded since they were first quoted on the LME in April 1979. Nickel prices have soared 48% since early 2006.

11 May 2006

Metal costs up in 2006
Japanese stainless steel mill Nisshin Seiko has seen its purchase costs of zinc, nickel and molybdenum rise by JPY 10 million in the current fiscal year 2006 from last year. Nisshin Seiko's current financial year runs from April 2006 to March 2007. The company officials said they based their cost forecast on zinc at USD 3,000/mt and nickel at USD 8/lb, the monthly average prices in April 2006. Out of the JPY 10 billion rise in metal purchase costs, JPY 6 billion is attributed to zinc and JPY 4 billion to nickel and molybdenum, they said. Material costs would also rise because of increased metal consumption as Nisshin Seiko expects increased stainless output in fiscal 2006. In fiscal 2005, the company produced 590,000mt of stainless steel. The company officials declined to estimate its stainless output for fiscal 2006. Nisshin Seiko forecasts stainless steel sales to increase by 13.8% to JPY 165 billion in fiscal 2006, but warned that profit levels may fall by 25% to JPY 12 billion.

11 May 2006

WA nickel exploration
Western Australian-headquartered nickel company FerrAus Ltd has entered into an agreement with Mithril Resources Ltd that will see Mithril spend USD 2 million to earn a stake in the Silver Swan North nickel project near Kalgoorlie in WA. Mithril will join with its alliance partner BHP Billiton Ltd to carry out exploration work at Silver Swan North. Mithril has entered into an agreement with FerrAus, the 100% owner of the project, to earn a stake of 51% by spending USD 2 million on exploration work. BHP Billiton will now meet that funding commitment, earning it a 45.9% stake giving Mithril 5.1%. Mithril and BHP Billiton have the capacity to earn a combined stake of 75% by spending another USD 3 million.

9 May 2006

Nickel price brings SS headaches
According to Meps, nickel's price surge has continued, creating fresh headaches for participants in the stainless steel market. In London Metal Exchange trading in the last week of April, nickel prices reached a peak of USD 20,000 per tonne. Some observers attribute nickel's soaring price to a physical shortage of metal. Demand is increasing because of the rise in stainless steel production and higher consumption of nickel-base alloys by the aerospace sector. At the same time, nickel supply is being restricted by unexpected shutdowns at a number of producers. Labour disputes are threatening to disrupt some nickel companies' production later in the year. But this talk of shortages goes against the experience of some stainless steel mill purchasing officers, who say they are not experiencing any difficulty in obtaining metal. They see the price being driven - not by the normal issues of supply and demand - but by commodity fund investors and speculators. Whatever its cause, the high nickel price is a reality and other stainless steel production costs are also rising.

8 May 2006

Australian nickel secured
Australia-based Allegiance Mining will supply 70,000 tonnes of contained nickel over 8-10 years to China’s Jinchuan Group under the terms of an off-take deal worth nearly USD 1.3 billion recently agreed by the companies. Jinchuan will also extend Allegiance a loan of approximately USD 3.7 million in order to get the almost-completed Avebury nickel project in Tasmania up and running in Q4. The state-owned Chinese nickel producer will then extend another USD 5.2 million to upgrade the mine’s ore processing operations, Steel Business Briefing understands. Avebury will initially produce around 5,700t/y of nickel in concentrates, but the company plans to expand production as quickly as possible to around 10,000t/y, and is exploring a second nearby ore deposit to that end. Under the terms of the off-take agreement, Jinchuan will have first rights to any additional nickel resources discovered in the vicinity.

8 May 2006

Sherritt to expand Cuban nickel output
Canadian metals producer Sherritt International Corp. has begun work to expand nickel production by almost 50% at its joint venture in Cuba, but output is expected to reach the market a year later than the company initially indicated, Steel Business Briefing understands. Sherritt, in conjunction with its partner, state-owned mining company Cubaniquel, plans to boost refined nickel output by 16,000t/y. The project includes expansion of mining activities and the revamping of both a processing plant at Moa Bay in Cuba and a joint venture nickel refinery in Canada. The USD 450 million expansion is scheduled for completion in 2008, and is designed to provide additional feed for the Moa Bay plant for 25 years. The work is not expected to disrupt current production. Sherritt indicated in mid?2005 that the expansion would be completed by 2007. The Moa Bay plant is a 50?50 joint venture operated by Sherritt under the name General Nickel Co.

8 May 2006

China: new nickel plant
Inco Ltd has confirmed plans to proceed with the construction of a new plant in Dalian, Liaoning Province, China, for the production of Utility® nickel, a refined form of nickel product for the special needs of the stainless steel industry. The new plant is intended to supply stainless steel makers in the fast-growing Chinese market. Construction work on the USD 63 million facility is expected to commence in the third quarter of 2006 and commissioning is expected to take place in the first half of 2008. The new Utility nickel plant will have a nominal capacity of 32,000 tonnes per year. Feed for the new plant, consisting of intermediate forms of nickel, will be supplied by Inco’s Goro nickel project in New Caledonia and other sources. Engineering and construction contracts have been awarded to Posco E&C (Beijing) Co. Ltd, a Beijing-based engineering company. Technology and support will also be supplied by Korea Nickel Corp. Inco has also signed a letter of intent with Taiyuan Iron and Steel Corp. (TISCO) regarding the possible construction of a second Utility nickel plant in China. The two companies have agreed to study the feasibility of building a Utility nickel plant which would be located at or near TISCO’s facilities in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, China.

24 April 2006

Goro nickel project resumes
Inco Ltd plans to resume work at its Goro nickel mine in New Caledonia where construction was halted this month because of vandalism by locals. But the nickel giant says it has not yet assessed the impact of the work stoppage at its USD 1.9 billion mega-project – a key part of Inco's growth strategy – that is set to start up in late 2007.

24 April 2006

Avebury seals nickel deal
The Avebury nickel mine on Tasmania's west coast has its first major customer – it has signed a contract worth more than USD 1.7 billion. China's largest nickel company, Jinchuan, has agreed to buy 70,000 tonnes of metal over the next eight to 10 years. To speed up the start of mining at the site, Jinchuan will provide a USD 5 million loan to Avebury's owner, Allegiance Mining. Another USD 7 million loan is expected in 15 months to help process the nickel. Allegiance chairman Mr Tony Howland-Rose says the company will now finalise construction of the Avebury Mine. China's biggest nickel refiner, Jinchuan, will buy USD 1.7 billion worth of metal over the next decade. Mr Howland-Rose says he expects mining to start within six months.

23 March 2006
Cuba: nickel expansion
Canadian resource company Sherritt International Corp. and Cuba have begun a 16,000 tonne expansion of their joint nickel and cobalt production facility. Plans call for increased output to come on line in 2008 without affecting current production, Sherritt recently reported. The USD 450 million expansion project includes retooling a joint venture refinery in Canada to handle the increased output and mining rights that would supply the Moa plant for 25 years. The plant, in Moa, eastern Holguin province, is a joint venture with state owned Cubaniquel and currently produces 33,000 tonnes per year. Cubaniquel operates two of three processing facilities in Holguin province, 800km east of Havana and is a 50% partner in the third with Sherritt International.

19 April 2006
Inco to purchase nickel stocks
Canadian nickel producer Inco plans to purchase 13,600 tonnes of nickel in concentrates from Australian sources to meet expanded customer needs in 2006. Inco has also reached agreements with two unspecified companies to have their concentrates toll?smelted and refined. The purchases are in addition to an anticipated 10% increase in production from Inco’s own mining, smelting and refining operation in 2006. The result is that Inco expects to be able to supply customers with a total of 256,000 tonnes of finished nickel this year.

13 April 2006
Ferronickel plant to increase production 8.4%
Pobuzhsky Ferronickel Combine, in Ukraine's Kirovohrad region, plans to increase ferronickel production 8.4% year-on-year to 90,000 tonnes in 2006, company Chief Engineer Mr Ivan Kapran told Interfax during a seminar on 18-19 March on the installation of energy conserving equipment at the combine.

10 April 2006
LME nickel price soars
The LME nickel price continues to soar, spiking briefly to USD 17,543/tonne in 10 April trading. The metal looks set to gain 18% in the opening business days of April, Steel Business Briefing notes. Commodity and investment fund buying continues at an unusually brisk pace, market observers say. Bullish sentiment is being driven by declining stocks and the worsening situation at Inco’s giant Goro nickel project, where sporadic violence and vandalism by local groups has halted work for a second week. Goro is one of only two major nickel projects scheduled to be commissioned within the next two years. LME warehouse nickel inventories have steadily declined since the beginning of the year. Stocks, already at a four-month low, are poised this week to fall below the 30,000 tonne level. LME nickel for three-month delivery is now close to mid-2005 prices, which were the highest levels since the late 1980s.

5 April 2006
South Korea: nickel processing plant
Posco Co. has agreed to build a USD 352 million nickel processing plant with New Caledonia's SMSP in South Korea. The steelmaker has been looking to build the joint plant with SMSP, the nickel development company of the French-controlled island, to secure a stable supplier of nickel.

24 March 2006
Severe service mining valve contract
Velan Inc. has announced the award of a USD 13 million contract for the supply of Securaseal severe service metal-seated ball valves in Grade 28 titanium and 2205 Duplex stainless steel materials. The buyer, Goro Nickel SA, is a subsidiary of the mining powerhouse Inco Ltd and is responsible for the management of the Goro Nickel project. The Goro Nickel Project, established to extract and process Nickel Laterite and Cobalt, is located on the South Pacific island of New Caledonia.

23 March 2006
Albidon drilling intersects high grade nickel
Albidon Ltd, the Australian mining company, said four drillholes designed to extend the northern and southern boundaries of the Enterprise Deposit, Munali (southern Zambia) have intersected high grade nickel. The mining group said Drillhole MAD226 is the thickest high grade mineralisation drilled to date at the southern end of Enterprise and is open down dip and that Drillhole MAD222 "confirms the extent of thick high grade mineralisation recently reported at the northern end of Enterprise, which remains open along strike and down dip." Albidon added drilling is continuing with four rigs now on site, aimed at further extending and detailing the Enterprise resource.

23 March 2006
Gladstone Pacific buys Queensland licenses
Gladstone Pacific Nickel has reached a binding heads of agreement to purchase four mining leases adjacent to and SW of Gladstone Pacific's Marlborough resource in Central Queensland, Australia. Under the agreement Gladstone Pacific has acquired the right to mine the leases for nickel and cobalt, it said. Once contract terms have been finalised, Gladstone Pacific will undertake a further drilling programme over these leases, together with the new lease area on which Heads of Agreement were announced on 14 Mar 2006.

23 March 2006
BHP Billiton raises stake by 4.4%
European Nickel PLC said that BHP Billiton, its technology partner in the Caldag nickel project in western Turkey, is to raise its equity interest in ENickel by a further 4.4%. BHP Billiton is to acquire 5,714,286 new shares in the Company at a price of 35 pence, for GBP 2,000,000, to increase its total shareholding to 14,939,875 shares, equal to 12.2% of ENickel's enlarged issued capital.

20 March 2006
New premises for Metals UK
Metals UK, a speciality nickel alloys company, has collected the keys to their new purpose built premises. The building, in Greater Manchester, is the result of 2 years planning and negotiation. The brand new purpose built building has a capacity of 30,000ft2 increasing the groups overall capacity to 120,000ft2 and will provide the perfect space to accommodate the company over the coming strategic period. The investment is part of a heavy capital investment programme, which will continue over the next two years and will see additional enhancements to their customer support capabilities. This move will take place mid April and the site, including all associated processing capabilities will be fully operational by mid May.

20 March 2006
Nickel market is vulnerable
Nickel demand will remain closely balanced with supply for the next two years and prices may jump on supply disruption, said Zambezi Nickel Ltd, a company that plans to build a mine in Zambia. Prices for the metal in London have almost doubled in the past three years as China and other Asian nations use more nickel as they increase stainless steel production. Nickel use is forecast to exceed production this year.

17 March 2006
Imphy signs with DSME
Imphy Alloys has signed a contract with DSME (Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co Ltd) for the supply of Invar® M93 for 10 LNG carriers and 10 optional ones. Imphy Alloys is a company within the stainless steels sector of the Arcelor group, specialising in nickel and cobalt alloys. Invar® M93 is a 36% nickel alloy used in LNG tanks designed with membrane technology.

17 March 2006
Eramet to buy Weda
Eramet SA, a French miner of nickel and manganese, has agreed to buy Canada's Weda Bay Minerals Inc. for CDN 270 million in cash. Eramet is offering CDN 2.70 for each Weda share. Toronto-based Weda's board unanimously backed the offer, the companies said in a joint statement on 16 March 2006. Investors holding more than 40% of Weda's shares have accepted the offer.

22 February 2006
Nickel deficit in 2005
The World Bureau of Metal Statistics has just released its first estimates of metal supply and demand for 2005. The supply and demand balance for nickel recorded its third consecutive annual deficit with consumption exceeding production by about 7 thousand tonnes. Global production rose by almost 5% to just over 1.3 million tonnes due to output increases by Macedonia, China and Australia. Russia remains the largest producer of nickel producing 264 thousand tonnes in 2005. Global demand for nickel rose by just over 5% to 1.32 million tonnes. China consumed just over 200 thousand tonnes and became the largest single consumer of the metal surpassing Japan for the first time. Japanese consumption declined by 25 thousand tons compared with 2004. European consumption rose by almost 40 thousand tonnes due to increase in apparent demand in Italy and Germany.

6 February 2006
New Caledonia nickel project
A spokesman for a planned nickel mining project in northern New Caledonia, Mr Stephane Camerlynck, says construction at the mining site will begin this year. The merger offer has been extended to 27 February after anti-trust regulators in the EU and the USA began investigating.

3 February 2006
Inco to raise nickel output
PT International Nickel Indonesia, a unit of Inco Ltd, aims to raise production by 25% by 2009 to meet rising demand. The company's production last year exceeded the 160 million pounds target and it aims to make 200 million pounds by 2009.

19 January 2006
New Caledonia: nickel smelter unit
Technip, in a joint venture with Hatch, has been awarded by Falconbridge Ltd the project for the construction of the Koniambo nickel smelter unit located in the New Caledonia’s Northern Province, near Kone. The planned smelter will have an annual production capacity of 60,000 tons of ferrous nickel alloy. The EPCM contract, valued at over USD 250 million, includes the engineering for the overall investment, as well as procurement and construction project management services. The engineering will be carried out by Technip and Hatch’s engineering centres. Facilities at this nickel operation will include the laterite mine and ore-transport facilities, a pyro-metallurgical ore processing plant with associated utilities, a coal-fired power plant and other infrastructures. The overall investment in the Koniambo project will total about USD 2.2 billion. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2007 with the earliest production start-up targeted for 2009/10. CONTACT (Technip): Laurence Bricq, +33 (0) 1 47 78 26 37, fax: +33 (0) 1 47 78 24 33,e-mail: lbricq@technip.com

13 January 2006
Posco to invest in Ni mining JV
Posco has announced its plans to invest USD 352 million in nickel mine ventures jointly with New Caledonia's Societe Miniere du Sud Pacifique SA SMSP. Under the plan, the two sides have agreed that they will establish a nickel mine company in New Caledonia and a nickel refining company in South Korea.

8 January 2006
Vermelho nickel project
GRD Minproc, the construction subsidiary of Australia's GRD, has won the EPC management contract for Brazilian iron ore miner CVRD's USD1.2 billion Vermelho nickel project. Vermelho is located in the Carajás region of NE Brazil's Pará state, and is expected to produce 46,000t/y of nickel, 2,800t/y of nickel cathode and 500t/y of copper. Mobilization is set to start immediately and production by 2008 year-end. GRD Minproc has appointed two Brazilian engineering companies, Minerconsult Engenharia and Setal Engenharia Construções e Perfurações, to provide support to the project.

30 November 2005
Caldag Nickel project
European Nickel PLC of UK approved the feasibility study for the Caldag Nickel Project in western Turkey to be produced in collaboration with Australian Aker Kvarner. The Caldag Project will produce annually 21.400 tones of nickel in a mixed hydroxide product which will be sold to refineries. The capital cost of the project is estimated at USD 250 million.

7 October 2005
Australia: nickel refinery
Gladstone Pacific Nickel Ltd's proposed USD 983 million nickel and cobalt refinery in NE Australia won the backing of the Queensland state government. The government declared the proposed refinery a significant project and wants the company to submit an environment study by October 2006, Queensland Premier Mr Peter Beattie said. The refinery will have the ability to produce 30,000 tons of nickel and 1400 tons of cobalt a year. Construction of the first phase of the plant could start in 2007, and production could begin in 2009.

27 September 2005
Nickel project
BHP Billiton Ltd Plc has increased the projected capital expenditure costs for its Ravensthorpe nickel mine and Yabulu refinery expansion in Australia to USD 1.8 billion from USD 1.4 billion, citing higher raw material and construction costs for the mine designed to yield around 50,000 tonnes of nickel, used in stainless steel-making, annually starting in 2007. Following board approval last year, BHP Billiton has started construction of the Ravensthorpe project in far western Australia and also plans to upgrade its Yabulu nickel refining business in eastern Australia.

16 September 2005
Voisey's Bay produces first nickel concentrate
Inco Ltd's Voisey's Bay project in Labrador, Canada, has finally produced its first nickel concentrate. The Toronto based firm said it remains on target to see the first shipment of concentrate from the Voisey's Bay project this November, well ahead of the original project schedule. The company expects to produce nearly 50,000 tonnes of nickel concentrate at Voisey's Bay in 2006. With Inca’s Voisey's Bay project, its Goro nickel-cobalt project under construction in New Caledonia and an expansion to its PT Inco operations in Indonesia, the company plans by 2009 to increase its nickel production by about 35% from its record 2004 production of 236,817 tonnes.

9 September 2005
Nickel-based alloy expansion
Allegheny Technologies Inc. has announced an expansion of its melt nickel-based alloy, super-alloy, and specialty alloy production capabilities. These investments are aimed at increasing ATI's capacity to produce these alloys used for aero-engine rotating parts; airframe applications; oil and gas exploration, extraction, and refining; and power generation land-based turbines and flue gas de-sulfurization pollution control units. Major projects of this expansion, which is expected to increase ATI's premium-melt capacity by approximately 20%, include: upgrading and expanding vacuum induction melt (VIM) capacity; installation of two new electro-slag re-melt (ESR) furnaces and three new vacuum arc re-melt (VAR) furnaces.

7 September 2005
Land turbine components
Three new varieties of land turbine components are currently produced by Viper grinding on a Makino A55 horizontal machining centre at subcontractor, Teleflex Aerospace manufacturing, UK. Two are stage-one nozzle guide vanes for Siemens Industrial Turbo-machinery AB in Finspong, Sweden, while the third is a shrouded turbine blade for Rolls-Royce in Derby. To achieve the required tolerances and avoid burning, all have its finish grinding operation completed by wheels supplied by Saint-Gobain. The nozzle guide vanes are produced in two set-ups from nickel-based Inconel 939 alloy. The surface of these heat-sensitive components used to crack during the all-important final grinding operation after the previous wheel became clogged with sticky swarf. This not only led to surface cracking and porosity, but also made it difficult to hold fine edge features. The porosity is naturally and evenly spaced, without using artificial pore inducers, in a patented manufacturing process at Saint-Gobain’s Stafford factory, allowing coolant to be readily absorbed and diffused to the point of cutting. The temperature of the long alloy chips is therefore kept low, discouraging clogging of the cutting edge. The shrouded turbine blade for Rolls-Royce’s high pressure facility in Derby is made from a nickel-based, high temperature alloy casting and has its fir tree root form and shroud end ground in two successive, single-hit operations. For this component too, Saint-Gobain provides the wheel for the final grinding operation.

4 August 2005
Nickel recovery plant automation
Emerson has been chosen by Inco, Canada, to automate a 1/100th scale demonstration processing plant currently under construction in Argentia, Canada. The Argentia plant is being built to demonstrate the technical and economic validity of Inco hydrometallurgy (Hydromet) technology to process nickel concentrate. In the event that the hydrometallurgical technology proves successful, a full-scale commercial plant using this technology will be built by the end of 2011. The Argentia demonstration plant will process nickel concentrate produced at a mine and concentrator located at Voisey's Bay in northern Labrador. Voisey's Bay Nickel Co. (VBNC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Inco, is responsible for the development of the mine and concentrator, as well as processing facilities on Newfoundland. The project includes installing Emerson PlantWeb digital plant architecture to automate the new demonstration plant. This digital approach uses an open, standards-based Foundation Fieldbus network to connect intelligent field devices and the Emerson DeltaV digital automation system. The digital PlantWeb network will also include Rosemount pressure and temperature transmitters and magnetic flow meters, Fisher control valves with Fieldvue digital valve controllers, and Rosemount Analytical conductivity measurement instruments.

20 July 2005
Inco Ltd appoints
Inco Ltd has announced that Rick Waugh and Francis Mer have been appointed Directors of Inco Ltd. Mr. Waugh is currently President and Chief Executive Officer of Scotiabank, a financial institute from North America. He began his career with Scotiabank in branch banking in Winnipeg in 1970 and, over the years, has served in the Bank's investment, corporate, international and retail banking areas. He became President in January 2003 and Chief Executive Officer in December 2003. Mr. Mer is the former Minister of Economy, Finance and Industry for the government of France, a position that he held from 2002 to 2004. From 1986 until 2002, Mr. Mer was Chairman and CEO of Usinor, a European steel company, and also served as Co-Chairman of the Arcelor Group during this period. Prior to that, he was Chairman and Managing Director of Pont-à-Mousson SA, a producer of cast-iron pipe and related products, and Deputy General Manager of the Saint-Gobain Group, responsible for its Pipelines and Mechanical Engineering Division.

11 July 2005
Oil and gas production platform
The world's largest delivery of copper/nickel alloy C70600 (90/10 copper/nickel) to date for an offshore oil and gas production platform is doing duty at Thunder Horse, the huge platform off the coast of Texas. KM Europa Metal supplied 11,000m, or 700 tonnes, of seamless and seam-welded pipe and fittings in diameters ranging from 2.54cm to 91.54cm, with wall thicknesses of 1.5 to 19mm. The applications consist of fire-fighting, cooling water for equipment such as compressors, turbines and pumps, and bilge and ballast systems. Towed to its drill site in the Gulf of Mexico, 200km SW of New Orleans, in 1,800m of water over the Thunder Horse oil field, the same-named semi-submersible rig will tap into reserves of 1 to 3 billion barrels. The rig is 156m long, 114m wide and 132m high, and displaces 130,000 tonnes. It will process 250,000 barrels of oil and 200 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.

22 June 2005
Nickel-alloy fights SARS
Japanese researchers have discovered that a nickel-alloy coating with antibacterial properties is believed to be effective at reducing the SARS coronavirus. Laboratory testing conducted by Associate Professor Norio Hirano of Iwate University found the nickel-alloy coating developed by Kobe Steel, Ltd. reduced the growth of mouse hepatitis virus (MHV, or mouse coronavirus), which is a close relative of the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) coronavirus (CoV). Both MHV and SARS CoV are in the same group of coronaviruses. Experiments were conducted to examine the effectiveness of the nickel-alloy coating on stainless steel. Plastic and stainless steel were used as the control. Other experiments examined the effect of room temperature on incubation time. In both cases, the study demonstrated that the nickel-alloy coating decreased the growth of MHV.

10 May 2005
USA: re-melt facility expansion
Electralloy (USA) has announced projects for the consumable electrode re-melt facility and AOD (Argon-oxygen decarburization) refining vessels. Recovering market demand for high technology stainless, duplex stainless, nickel alloys and the Electralloy commitment to improve customer service drive these projects. Electralloy will add a 125,000 square foot building addition to the existing three-furnace, 2-VAR (Vacuum Arc Remelt), 1-ESR (Electroslag Remelt) facility. Phase one of the building project will include a 40” Consarc VAR furnace, complimented by a 50 ton crane. This will provide Electralloy future expansion capability for additional re-melt and heat-treat furnaces. Anticipated commissioning date for new VAR melt furnace is October 2005. Electralloy will expand AOD refining capabilities by upgrading its “A” - AOD unit to match the flexibility and tonnage capacity of the current “B” - AOD unit. Both will have the flexibility to refine 18, 22 or 30-ton heats. The upgrade, scheduled for plant shutdown in July, will allow additional tonnage to be produced while retaining the flexibility to produce smaller custom refined heats.

25 April 2005
Rotary lobe pumps
SSP pumps (UK) introduces its new brand of positive displacement rotary lobe pumps. SSP are able to supply pumps with pump head materials in Uranus B6 (904L), and nickel alloys. From initial enquiry the specification of the pump will be engineered to ensure that the most appropriate pump is provided to meet application requirements. SSP pumps offers 119 different pump models in 7 different ranges to choose from, and providing differential pressures up to 20 bar and flow rates up to 680m3h.

22 April 2005
Nickel specification
The American Welding Society (AWS) has published "AWS A5.14/A5.14M:2005, Specification for Nickel and Nickel-Alloy Bare Welding Electrodes and Rods". The chemical compositions of nearly 50 nickel and nickel-alloy welding electrodes and rods are specified, including 13 compositions not previously classified.

12 January 2005
Electroless Nickel available in high volumes
Frost Electroplating, the specialist electroplater based in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, UK, has increased its electroless nickel plating capability. Although electroless nickel was originally developed for valves used in north sea oil production as it increases corrosion resistance and hardness, its uniform thickness and weldability have made it suitable for many more applications and markets. "Our new plant is particularly suitable for large volumes of small components such as are used in the electronics, electrical and automotive industries where these properties are very important" said Michael Griffith, Marketing Director of Frost Electroplating. The company which also provides silver, gold, nickel, tin and tin-lead finishes to the electrical, electronic, automotive and general engineering industries is able to offer electroless nickel in both barrel and rack plating.

18 February 2005
Nickel training
The Nickel Institute has developed a slide presentation (with audio) that highlights good practices when fabricating austenitic stainless steels. This general, introductory presentation is free of charge and can be viewed at any time. It contains 61 pages and 18 interactive functions (8 animated illustrations) designed to introduce you to the practices that will allow you to transport, store, cut, form, weld and clean austenitic stainless steels in such a way as to preserve their corrosion resistance and aesthetic qualities. The video can be viewed and heard on this website.

12 January 2005
Electroless Nickel available in high volumes
Frost Electroplating, the specialist electroplater based in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, UK, has increased its electroless nickel plating capability. Although electroless nickel was originally developed for valves used in north sea oil production as it increases corrosion resistance and hardness, its uniform thickness and weldability have made it suitable for many more applications and markets. "Our new plant is particularly suitable for large volumes of small components such as are used in the electronics, electrical and automotive industries where these properties are very important" said Michael Griffith, Marketing Director of Frost Electroplating. The company which also provides silver, gold, nickel, tin and tin-lead finishes to the electrical, electronic, automotive and general engineering industries is able to offer electroless nickel in both barrel and rack plating.

28 October 2004
Australian nickel growth
The introduction of alternate processing technology and a regional programme of project development and exploration are at the centre of WMC's recently announced nickel growth strategy. In an address to the Australian-British Chamber of Commerce in Melbourne today, WMC CEO Andrew Michelmore outlined opportunities to increase nickel production by 25,000 tonnes per annum from 2008/09. "The extra production will come from the development of a new processing route to treat current and future stockpiles of talc and low grade ores at Mt Keith", Mr Michelmore said. "A new milling circuit will be combined with the application of Low Pressure Leach technology to treat over 110,000t of nickel already in stockpiles." Pilot plant trials for the new nickel leach circuit at Mt Keith are underway in the USA. Product from the leach circuit will be fed directly to expanded capacity at WMC's Kwinana nickel refinery or sold as a high value intermediate product. The testwork and associated engineering studies for the concentrator and leach circuit project will be completed in time for construction in 2006.

20 August 2004
Drilling holes in stainless components
Delcam's Power Solution CADCAM software has been selected by the Winbro Group for its new five-axis laser machining process, Lasemill. This new technology allows complex geometries to be machined into gas turbine blades and vanes to the high level of quality and accuracy that was previously only possible with EDM. It is claimed that the process offers lower cost and higher speed when creating complex features for producers of both aerospace and industrial gas turbines. It can be used both in the initial manufacture and in the repair of either ceramic coated or uncoated hard metal parts. The main application of the Lasemill process is expected to be in the precision drilling of holes for the air-cooling of components made from stainless steel, titanium or nickel. This is a critical part of the whole manufacturing operation since the aim is to create the maximum possible number of holes in the part without jeopardising its structural integrity.

20 August 2004
New flux-core wire
Techalloy (a division of Arcelor) has introduced its Techalloy 625 FCA, which aims to combine the ease of use of a flux-core wire with nickel alloy applications. Techalloy 625 FCA is used for the welding of nickel-chrome-molybdenum alloys, as well as for welding dissimilar joints between nickel-chrome-molybdenum alloys and stainless, low carbon, or low alloy steels. Its low iron content makes it ideal when the dilution of iron needs to be minimised. Slag from the encoated flux forms quickly, holding the welding material firmly in vertical and overhead joints. According to Stan Merrick, Techalloy’s Director of Marketing, Techalloy 625 FCA wire withstands highly corrosive conditions. Its combination of nickel and chromium provides resistance to oxidising conditions, while the combination of nickel and molybdenum contributes excellent resistance to reducing conditions as well as to stress-corrosion cracking, pitting and crevice corrosion. The bead appearance is smooth and cosmetically appealing, and the slag is easily removed from the finished weld.

19 August 2004
India to supply steel for Euro coins
Indian steel will be used to make Euro coins. Jindal Stainless, the country’ s largest stainless steel making outfit, has secured an order to supply coin blanks to Monnaie De Paris, the French national mint. France, according to 2002 data, produces some 7.5 billion, 15% of the total Euro coins in circulation. Coins are made using various alloys of metals like nickel, copper and zinc. The metals, in appropriate composition, are melted in furnaces, cast into ingots and passed through rolling mills to reduce them into strips. These strips are fed into high-speed punch presses to be converted into coin blanks, also known as planchets of appropriate diameter. Coin blanks go through the process of being cleaned, processed further metallurgically and imprinted to result in coins for circulation. In itself, coin making is a niche just opening up for business for stainless steel makers around the world. SAIL officials point out that " until 2003-4 the Salem Steel Plant has supplied about 33,000 tonnes of coin blanks and 24,000 tonnes of stainless steel strips to the four Indian government mints." Jindal Stainless already supplies AISI 430 grade ferritic stainless steel and cupro nickel coils to the government.

28 July 2004
Prevent plating losses
The Nickel Institute has published advice to help prevent the release of nickel to air, water and landfill. UK-based consultant Bryan Fisher, who has 40 years of experience in the field, authored the paper "Avoid Nickel Plating Losses - Protect the Environment and Improve Profitability." The paper is Technical Series No. 10 089 in the Nickel Institute's series of papers and is available free of charge from its website. Topics include: the nature of losses, losses in liquid form (dragout and carry over), action required to prevent losses, losses to the atmosphere (nickel salts as aerosol mist), and losses to landfill.

28 July 2004
Battle against corrosion
As part of the annual conference of NACE International held in New Orleans, nine corrosion specialists recently presented their views on the technical challenges facing the global chemical process industry. About 200 chemical process engineers from around the world attended a session titled "Process Industry Corrosion in the New Millennium." Stewardship of chemical process equipment is needed to reduce the release of hazardous chemicals from processing plants, according to Robert E. Smallwood of Det Norske Veritas (USA) Inc. Equipment stewardship would result in better corrosion-resistant alloys being selected for vessels, and those vessels would not have to be designed so that an operator can gain access to them for inspection, he said. Chak M. Wong (Bayer Corp.) said that nickel-containing alloys are being specified more often for critical chemical process equipment. Tubing in equipment such as condensers and heat exchangers at Bayers' operations in the USA has been upgraded to S31603 stainless steel to solve various corrosion-related challenges. Josef Heinemann of UTP Schweissmaterial GmbH showed that one nickel alloy (N06059) gives the best corrosion test results in a series of tests when used to weld a wide variety of base materials. Thomas Ammann of Linde AG revealed that the welding of nickel-base alloys using the GMAW/MAG processes could be improved simply by using multi-component shielding gases rather than pure shielding gases, such as pure argon. Rudolf Morach of Ciba Specialty Chemicals expressed his views that the removal of heat tint is a must. He developed a test showing that pickling gives a major improvement. Four new nickel-based alloys were described: Martin Caruso explained how Haynes International developed alloy N06035, a high chromium, high molybdenum nickel base alloy. Larry Paul of ThyssenKrupp VDM discussed a number of field test results for R20033. The alloy, with about 33% chromium, 33% nickel, 0.5% nitrogen, but only 1% molybdenum, was developed for highly oxidizing conditions, which occurs with nitric acid and certain sulphuric acid applications. Another paper by ThyssenKrupp VDM, this one by Helen Alves, included a case study for the production of Vitamin C. Tests showed that N06059, a nickel-chromium-molybdenum alloy in the upper end of the "C-type" alloys, was the most suitable. Lee Pike and Dwaine Klarstrom of Haynes International described a new high-strength alloy called C-22HS [TM]. It is comparable to N06022 in terms of corrosion resistance, but can be age-hardened to produce nearly double the yield strength.

10 may 2004
Nickel expert dies
C.P. (Paul) Dillon, who acted as a consultant for the Nickel Development Institute (NiDI) and its successor, the Nickel Institute, has died. Mr Dillon worked with the NiDI right from its formation in 1985. He participated as a lecturer in NiDI's Materials Engineering workshops in the US, Canada, and the UK, until his health prevented him from travelling in 1995. Paul continued to provide Nickel Institute technical service to enquirers to his last week. No doubt the high reputation that NiDI and the Nickel Institute has had for providing accurate and useful technical information is in large part due to Paul's knowledge and abilities. Mr Dillon was the author of many books and technical articles, many published by NACE, MTI, and NiDI. He was made an MTI Fellow in 2001 in recognition of his critical involvement in the formation of that organization. He was also a NACE Fellow, a certified NACE Corrosion Specialist, and taught the NACE Basic Corrosion Course for many years. Mr Dillon worked for 34 years in Materials Engineering at Union Carbide (now a subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Company); this experience provided him with many insights into how materials perform in a corrosive environment.

31 march 2004
New York drinking water
New York City is engaged on a USD 6 billion project known as Water Tunnel No. 3. Th project, to refurbish the city's drinking water, began in 1970 and is due for completion in 2020. It is a huge user of nickel-containing stainless steel. The New York City Department of the Environment, which manages the project, needed valves that would provide low- or no-maintenance service for 100 years under conditions of 100% relative humidity. S30403 and S31600 stainless steel were found to offer the best corrosion resistance, lowest maintenance and best life-cycle costs of any material suitable for carrying potable water. Valves constructed entirely of stainless steel were first installed in the Tunnel No. 3 water distribution system in 1987 during Stage 1 of the project. Additional units were installed in 2003 during Stage 2. Kubota of Japan manufactured the stainless valves for Stage 1, which are 10-tonne units with a throat diameter of 1.22 metres. Voest-Alpine of Austria manufactured similar sized units that weigh 6.4 tonnes apiece. The stainless steel valves installed in Stage 2 were manufactured by Argentina-based Mendoza.Tunnel No. 3 starts at about 90 metres below surface where it taps into tunnels bringing water from reservoirs north of the city. It descends to a depth of over 240 metres as it heads south. Along its length are more than 20 riser shafts that bring water to the surface for distribution. Each of these, 1.2-metre-diameter shafts is lined with stainless steel plate, 5 millimetres (mm) in thickness. A typical riser shaft configuration has four, 1.2-metre riser valves in each distribution chamber. A total of 20 stainless steel riser valves and 34 stainless steel distribution valves will be installed by 2020. Seventeen pipelines route water to different city boroughs. The water can be reversed through each pipeline, and each is fitted with an upstream and a downstream quarter turn butterfly valve. The valve bodies in this case are cast and machined carbon steel, though the closure members are made of stainless steel S30403. The valves were manufactured by Kubota, of Osaka Japan, in 1975, and the selection of materials was based on the results of tests designed to determine which alloys could provide a life service of 100 years. A number of alloys, including aluminum and manganese bronze alloys, brasses, bronzes and copper-nickels, were immersed in water for 10-13 years. Only the stainless steel samples and some nickel base alloys performed with virtually no corrosion, with stainless steel offering the most cost-effective selection. The Van Cortland Park valve chamber's 17 venturi water meters are also made entirely of S30403, as are all of the accessories, rods and bolts that hold them together. Other riser shafts have 914-mm valves with carbon steel bodies.
The quest for lightness

Electroformed nickel molds are helping Airbus and Boeing create more fuel-efficient aircraft. Airplane manufacturers on both sides of the Atlantic are increasing the use of non-metallic composites, rather than aluminium alloys, to reduce the weight and therefore increase the fuel efficiency of their commercial aircraft. While this may be bad news for the aluminum industry, it is good news for the nickel industry. The reason is that the molds (or "tools," as they are sometimes called) that are used to make the major carbon-fibre and other composite components are mostly made of either K93600 (or Invar™) or a thin layer of pure nickel deposited on a metal substrate in a process known as "electroforming." Each has its own unique application. For example, Ex-Press Plastics (Process Equipment) Limited, in Norfolk, England, makes nickel electroformed tools that are used to fabricate the landing-gear doors of the Airbus A380. The company has also made an electroformed mold, 12.5 metres long, for the tail elevator of Boeing's 777. The company uses about eight tonnes of nickel per year. Invar (which is 36% nickel and 64% iron) has a near-zero co-efficient of thermal expansion and is typically used to build tools from welded sheets or tooled blocks. However, electroformed nickel tools are created by depositing nickel on plastic "bathmasters," which are epoxy forms corresponding to the size and contours of an aircraft part.
Reducing fuel consumption

A lightweight valve made from a nickel alloy has won first prize in the "Steel in Research and Development" category of the 2003 Steel Innovation Prize. The award-winning valve, made from N06601, containing 60% nickel, was designed by Stuttgart-based Mahle Ventiltrieb to meet the demand for a lightweight, cost-effective valve in combustion engines. The choice of material was based on several, often conflicting, requirements, says project manager Marcus Abele. The material had to be suitable for cold forming and laser beam welding while being able to withstand extreme thermal and mechanical stresses within the corrosive atmosphere of the engine. At average engine speeds, these valves open and close 30 times a second at temperatures up to 950°C. The new valve is 30-50% lighter than conventional valves, reducing the mass that must be moved in the valve actuating mechanism and, in turn, creating less frictional drag within the engine. Less friction and lower weight translates into less fuel consumption, fewer exhaust emissions, a higher allowable engine speed and reduced wear on the engine.

30 january 2004
Nickel catalyst for cheaper hydrogen
Chemical engineers at the University of Wisconsin have developed a nickel-based catalyst that could play a role in the evolution of the hydrogen economy. The Raney-nickel catalyst, named after the scientist who patented the Raney alloy in 1927, can generate hydrogen from common plant sources by converting their by-products to carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen gas (H2). Platinum can also perform this trick, but the precious metal is costly and often in short supply. Motivated by the demand for a lower-cost alternative, the Wisconsin researchers tested more than 300 catalysts before honing in on Raney-nickel, a nickel-aluminium alloy that is 90% nickel by weight. The nickel is alloyed with tin to avoid methane formation. The discovery may provide, for the first time, a cost-efficient means of producing hydrogen for fuel cells using renewable resources. The first applications of this process might be in combination with portable fuel cells to provide power for laptop computers, military equipment, and possibly cars. The research will continue to be developed and commercialised by Virent Energy Systems, which is building a larger scale reactor to test the process.

16 january 2004
Welding wire and dispenser
Tech Pak™ from Techalloy delivers stainless steel or nickel alloy welding wire to joints and seams in a straight, flip-free line for superior welds with fewer quality rejects. The dispenser is available with more than two dozen wire grades in diameters ranging from 0.035” to 0.062”. The stainless steel or nickel alloy wire comes packed in drums of 250lbs or 500 lbs, allowing hours of uninterrupted operation. The dispenser consists of a polyethylene cone to protect the wire and a large viewing window that lets the operator monitor material consumption for timely replacement.
Quick-connect fittings make set-up times fast and easy. The Tech Pak system works seamlessly with automated welding systems, and avoids the need for expensive, maintenance-intensive, let-off devices.

10 december 2003
Exotic-material extend lifecycle
Parker Instrumentation has been selected by EnCana (UK) Limited to supply exotic-material tube fittings for its recently approved Buzzard Project in the central North Sea. The use of this advanced material will help to optimise life expectancy for the instrumentation systems on the three-platform complex that will make up the Buzzard facility. "C276-based fittings will help to deliver a trouble-free life for the instrumentation systems on this massive field," says Keith Wood, Parker Instrumentation's UK Project Manager. At the same time, this will support the project's environmental goals and minimise maintenance as well as cope with the reservoir's "sour gas" containing hydrogen sulphide and carbon dioxide. The tube fittings are twin-ferrule compression types from Parker's A-LOK family. For all critical equipment areas, the fittings will be fabricated from C276, a steel alloy with nickel, molybdenum and chromium, which is generally considered to be one of the most versatile corrosion-resistant alloys available for dealing with aggressive oil, gas and chemical media. The corrosion resistance offered by the C276-based fittings is then maximised by the SuparCase process which Parker International has developed to harden the back ferrule, the part of the fitting responsible for ensuring a strong grip on the tube, without adversely impacting susceptibility to corrosion. This process additionally extends the lifetime of the fitting, allowing joints to be re-made for maintenance purposes, helping to minimise total lifecycle costs.

21 November 2003
Nickel used in oil sands desulphurisation
Nickel-containing alloys are being used in two new flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) installations in Canada. One is the Syncrude Canada oil sands operation at Fort McMurray, Alberta, and the other is NB Power's Coleson Cove oil-fired power generating station on the Bay of Fundy, near Saint John, New Brunswick. The new FGD plant for Syncrude will use N06059. The material retains high corrosion resistance to aggressive media such as hot sulphuric acid, even in the welded condition. The alloy, 700 tonnes in all, is supplied both as solid plate, in thicknesses from about 6 to 13 millimetres (mm), and as 1.5-to-3-mm hot-rolled cladding on carbon steel backing, by Thyssen Krupp VDM, Germany. The FGD plant is designed by Marsulex and will use the proprietary Marsulex process to produce ammonium sulphate fertiliser. Marsulex will operate the facility, under contract, for Syncrude. SNC Lavalin is the engineering contractor. The FGD plant is scheduled to start up in mid-2005. It is part of an upgrade and expansion that will increase oil production to 165 to 170 million barrels per year by 2008. It will reduce air emissions to 200 tonnes of sulphur dioxide per day, from the approved level of 245 tonnes per day.

20 November 2003
Cheaper hydrogen through nickel
Chemical engineers at the University of Wisconsin have developed a nickel-based catalyst that could lead to an inexpensive way to produce hydrogen. The Raney-nickel catalyst, named after the scientist who patented the Raney alloy in 1927, can generate hydrogen from common plant sources by converting their byproducts to carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen gas (H2). Platinum can also perform this trick, but the precious metal is costly and often in short supply. Motivated by the demand for a lower-cost alternative, the Wisconsin researchers developed Raney-nickel, a nickel-aluminum alloy that is 90% nickel by weight. The discovery may provide, for the first time, a cost-efficient means of producing hydrogen for fuel cells using renewable resources. The research will continue to be developed and commercialised by Virent Energy Systems, which is building a larger scale reactor to test the process. Wisconsin's Division of Energy, intrigued by the potential for the APR process to convert waste steams from food generators and other businesses into energy, is providing grants to Virent.

20 November 2003
NiDI Japan appointment
Keiji Toyabe has been appointed manager of the Nickel Development Institute's (NiDI's) liaison office in Tokyo, Japan. He will manage NiDI's programmes and activities in Japan, reporting to Jim Lilly, vice-president, at NiDI headquarters in Toronto, Canada. Mr Toyabe holds bachelor and master of engineering degrees in metallurgy and nuclear engineering, respectively, from Tokyo Institute of Technology. He joined Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd. in 1968 and has held positions of increasing responsibility in Sumitomo's copper, zinc and nickel-producing operations. Most recently, he was President of the Japan Coating Center Co. Ltd. Akira Ono, who has managed NiDI's activities in Japan since 1 July 2002, has retired.

14 October 2003
PremiAir pneumatic performance
For use in the most demanding process environments, PremiAir pneumatic actuators from Tyco Valves & Controls have been engineered to provide reliable and economical operation for all types of quarter-turn valves. One of the primary causes of performance deterioration in pneumatic actuators is internal corrosion. To combat this, the lightweight aluminium body of each PremiAir is hard anodised both inside and out. For extra durability and resistance to environmental corrosion, PremiAir actuators are also coated with an Electrostatic Powder Coating. If the application is hygienic or highly corrosive, such as caustic wash down areas or saline atmospheres, the PremiAir also can be specified with an optional Special Nickel Protection finish both internally and externally.
Available in Double Acting or Spring Return models, the PremiAir compact body design is available in one standard size for both configurations. Suitable for use with all quarter turn valves, the actuator can be fitted either with a bracket and detachable mounting plate or directly onto the valve, in accordance with ISO 5211. This design feature combined with the industry perferred square/ star output drive allows direct interchageability with other actuator brands.

20 May 2003
Stainless steel road tanker
Nicrofer 3127 hMo, alloy 31, developed by ThyssenKrupp VDM GmbH, opens up new possibilities for the transportation and storage of hazardous substances such as sulphuric or nitric acid. This iron-nickel-chromium-molybdenum alloy has long been used in chemical, petrochemical, environmental, oil and gas sectors because of its high resistance to corrosion in aggressive media. Now it has been used to build a road tanker to transport hazardous liquids. The material is used for the complete tank, including pipes and other equipment. The tanker, a so-called suction/pressure vehicle, was built by Kutschke Fahrzeugbau GmbH for disposal contractors Lobbe Deutschland GmbH. Alongside ThyssenKrupp VDM GmbH, the Federal Institute for Materials Research & Testing (BAM) was also involved in the development of the material as the licensing authority. BAM will create dependable framework conditions for the use of this material in transporter construction. The eighth edition of the BAM list of authorised materials for the transportation of highly aggressive media will contain Nicrofer 3127 hMo, as well as tow other ThyssenKrupp VDM materials, Nicrofer 5923 hMo, alloy 59, and Cronifer 1925 hMo, with the corresponding material class licenses.

8 April 2003
Pump problems at nuclear plant
A delay in resolving pump problems has loosened expectations for completion of repairs at FirstEnergy Corp.'s Davis-Besse nuclear plant (Akron, Ohio, USA). The facility was knocked off line a year ago when workers discovered that leaking boric acid had corroded a deep cavity into the carbon steel reactor lid. FirstEnergy determined that two emergency pumps, high-pressure injection pumps, needed some kind of repair. The pumps send water back into the reactor if a reactor breach causes a loss of coolant. The pumps take water from a tank, and also recirculate cooling water spilled onto the reactor containment building floor after an accident. Although FirstEnergy made major repairs to prevent debris from clogging the sump system collecting the water, the company still determined that debris could pose problems for bearings in the pumps. FirstEnergy also plans a pressure test to check for leaks on the reactor bottom and the four large coolant pumps. Last fall FirstEnergy discovered boric acid-related stains on the base of the reactor that it believes were caused by material from the corroded lid falling over the side. But because the stains were seen around 52 small nozzles on the reactor bottom, used to allow access for instruments, the pressure test will be used to determine if those nozzles are leaking. The nozzles are made of the same nickel alloy as the larger 69 control rod drive mechanism tubes that pass through the reactor lid. The nickel alloy in those tubes has proven vulnerable to cracking. FirstEnergy has overhauled two of Davis-Besse's four reactor coolant pumps, and does not believe the other two have any problems. But if any leaks become apparent due to the testing, repairs could take weeks. Once repairs and tests are finished, FirstEnergy will need final approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to bring the reactor back on line.

13 March 2003
New VIDP furnace ThyssenKrupp VDM
ThyssenKrupp Steel AG last year approved a plan to invest EUR 13.5 million in a vacuum induction degassing and pouring (VIDP) furnace for the production of nickel-base alloys. Once the project is completed in summer 2003, ThyssenKrupp VDM will have the largest melting plant for special alloys in the world, with heat weights of 20 to 30 metric tons. The new VIDP furnace will also be used by ThyssenKrupp VDM to produce nickel- and cobalt-base superalloys for the aerospace industry. The remelting facilities (ESR and VAR) were taken into operation at the company's Unna plant over the course of the last two years. The size and features of the facility will permit cost-effective operation and high production levels, with tap-to-tap times of less than six hours. The contract to build the VIDP facility was awarded to ALD Vacuum Technologies AG. The furnace will start operation only a year after the contract was awarded.

21 February 2003
Inconel alloy 22
Special Metals has launched a new product, Inconel alloy 22, to extend its range of nickel-base alloys for applications in very corrosive industrial environments. Inconel 22 is a nickel-base alloy containing 21.5% chromium, 13.6% molybdenum and 3% tungsten. The material is a modified version of Inconel alloy 622, whose composition has been optimised to provide corrosion resistance in a wide range of both oxidising and reducing acid media. The product has been renamed Inconel alloy 22 to match the industry’s common designation alloy 22. Inconel alloy 22 is identified by UNS Number 06022 and Werkstoff Number 2.4602 and is supplied to the ASTM/ASME specifications B/SB 564, 574, 575, 619, 622 and 626. Special Metals has recently been approved to produce Inconel Alloy 22 to VdTUV Werkstoffblatt 479. Thus, it can be used for pressure vessels and critical applications incorporating VdTUV design for temperatures to 400?C. The approval is for all plate, sheet, strip, bar and seamless tube products. The approved welding consumables for GMAW and GTAW are also available through Special Metals Welding Products.

4 February 2003
Kitz valves to include wider range of alloys
Kitz Corporation has announced that its integrated production system, which covers all key phases of valve manufacturing, will includes a host of additional stainless steel and high alloy steel valve castings, offering an even wider range of both iron and nickel radical alloys. Kitz Corporation has also introduced several Kitz special alloys, including super duplex phase stainless steel SDPV-K3. This alloy provides additional advantages over ferritic and austenitic stainless steel alloys, improving pitting corrosion resistance and achieving an improved cost performance target.

24 January 2003
Nickel helps save Leicester bridge
Metalock Engineering has been using its cast iron metal stitching expertise to repair and refurbish parapet panels, copings and cornices on the Old West Bridge that carries three lanes of traffic out of the centre of Leicester, UK. The Grade II listed wrought- and cast-iron bridge is one half of a dual carriageway, another bridge having been constructed alongside some 25 years ago. The Old West Bridge, on the A47, was surveyed four years ago and found to be in need of extensive repair and refurbishment. Traffic vibration had caused damage to the wrought-iron support beams and the cast iron decorative arches, parapets and copings.
Dew Construction was contracted by Leicester City Council to undertake the repairs and refurbishment of the main structural elements. Dew brought in Metalock Engineering, with whom the company had worked on two other bridges in Leicester, to carry out the cast iron repairs, a task in which Metalock has specialist expertise. The Metalock process is accepted as a method of repairing cracked and broken castings across a wide range of industries. One of the main advantages of the process is that it is heat-free and can be carried out in-situ or one of the company's workshops. Apertures are jig drilled across the crack to accept multi-dumbell shaped keys manufactured from a ductile high tensile nickel alloy. The keys are peened into the apertures to become integral with the parent metal. Holes are then drilled and tapped along the line of the fracture and filled with studs, each one positioned to overlap its neighbour. This combination of keys and studs produces a rigid and pressure tight repair and final peening and hand dressing completes the operation. Once the repair has been dressed, a primer applied and finish painted it is practically undetectable. Where pieces of cast iron section were missing from decorative plaques and panels on the bridge, Metalock machined replacements from cast iron blanks and stitched them into place to restore the original design.

6 January 2003
Finned tubes from Sandvik
Sandvik Steel has developed a production method for internally, longitudinally finned, cold-finished tubes for use as pyrolysis tubing in the demanding environment of ethylene furnaces.
With supply approvals having been obtained from key contractors, Sandvik has become an approved industry supplier. As a result, a major order has been obtained from Russia’s largest oil company, Luk Oil Europe Holding Ltd, for the supply of furnace radiant tubes for four furnaces at the Luk Oil ethylene plant in Burgas, Bulgaria. A previous order had been delivered last year to Borealis AB, Sweden’s only ethylene producer. In the ethylene process, steam and hydrocarbon are mixed together and heated, resulting in a tube metal temperature of between 900° and 1150° C and extremely aggressive and corrosion conditions. In order to extend the life of tubes in such an environment, Sandvik produces the required 2”-3” (50mm-76mm) outside diameter finned tubes in a modified high temperature steel grade Sandvik 353MA (UNS S35315) –an austenitic, chromium-nickel steel alloyed with nitrogen and rare earth metals. The chemical composition of Sandvik 353MA is optimised to provide a material with excellent carburisation and oxidation resistance. It has a high creep strength and maintains a very good structural stability in the temperature range required for service in ethylene furnaces. Sandvik 353MA is manufactured under licence from AvestaPolarit.

If you have current news about nickel applications, contracts involving alloys etc., please let us - and the rest of the community - know.

Send your press release to press.ssw@kci-world.com, attn. Mr James Chater.

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