Japan's Sumitomo Corp said on Thursday that its joint venture, the Ambatovy nickel mine in Madagascar, halted production on January 4 on the eve of Ava's tropical cyclone Ava. Sumitomo Corporation said some of the equipment was damaged by tropical cyclones and maintenance work has started. Sumitomo said it expects maintenance to be completed by the end of January, with production suspended. Sumitomo Corporation said all the people involved in the project are safe and the company has been assessing the impact on its earnings.
In addition to being used for stainless steel, nickel is also widely used in battery materials and the like, and especially recently, with the explosion of mobile phones and eco-friendly vehicles, the global demand is expanding. Since October 2005, Sumitomo Corporation has been involved in the operation of the nickel project at Ambatovy, the world's largest nickel production business in Madagascar, to meet the demand for nickel.
As the world's largest nickel producer, this is a one-stop production project in the same country, from mining to raw metal refining, which is rare in the world. Sumitomo Corporation works with private resource companies in Canada and Korea's Mining Resources Corporation to form an international team to undertake this large-scale project. The project put into operation in 2012.
The project's raw material nickel production capacity of 60,000 tons per year, in addition to the production of raw materials as a by-product of cobalt and ammonium sulfate. According to SMM data, the project mainly focuses on the production of nickel beans, with a production of 34,000 tons in 2017 and a global production of 173,100 tons in 2017.
Some domestic mills import some of the nickel beans directly from Madagascar and are exempt from tariffs, so they have partial effects on domestic enterprises.