The Cuban nickel industry garnered $552 million net profit on 70,400 tonnes of unrefined nickel and cobalt in 2008, local media reported Monday, citing the Basic Industry Ministry.
“The Cuban nickel industry gained economic leadership over the tourism industry in 2008, producing 70,400 tonnes with a net profit of $552 million,” the official Prensa Latina News Agency reported.
The agency said Cuba had the world’s second largest reserves of nickel and was the sixth producer.
Cuba produced around 76,000 tonnes of nickel plus cobalt in 2007 and plans to produce a similar amount in 2009.
There are three nickel processing plants in eastern Holguin province, two state owned and one a joint venture with Sherritt International of Canada.
Nickel is essential in the production of stainless steel and other corrosion-resistant alloys, while cobalt is critical for making super alloys used in aircraft engines and other products.
Cuban nickel is considered to be Class II with an average 90 percent nickel content.
Cuba’s National Minerals Resource Center has reported that eastern Holguin province has 34 percent of the world’s known reserves, or some 800 million tonnes, of proven nickel plus cobalt reserves.
The center says the region holds an additional 2.2 billion tonnes of probable reserves, with lesser reserves in other parts of the country.
Reporting by Marc Frank with editing by John Picinich
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