Sumitomo Metal Mining Company announced that it would be making a $168 million investment to increase the capacity of a nickel refinery that handles raw metal produced at the subsidiary Taganito HPAL Nickel project in the Philippines. The construction works will be completed by the April - June quarter of 2013.
The production capacity of nickel cathode at the Niihama plant in western Japan will be increased by 58.5%. The current capacity of 410,000 million tonnes a year at the plant will be raised to 650,000 million tonnes a year. The plant will also see a rise in the cobalt cathode it produces from 2,000 million tonnes a year to 4,500 million tonnes a year.
In September 2009 Sumitomo Metal Mining Co had announced that it would begin commercial operations at the 30,000 tonnes a year Taganito nickel plant in August 2013. This project would be kept alive for the next 30 years.
A company spokesman said that the expansion of the domestic refinery will help handle the increased processing of raw materials that will come in from the Taganito project.
Nickel is corrosion-resistant, finding many uses in alloys, as a plating, in the manufacture of coins, magnets and common household utensils. The Japanese company currently produces 22,000 tonnes of nickel at its Coral Bay plant in the Philippines.