Eramet Seeks New Partners for Indonesia's Weda Bay Nickel Project: CEO


JULY 07, 2016

Tokyo. French mining and metals group Eramet said on Thursday (07/07) it was seeking new partners for its Weda Bay nickel project in Indonesia after two Japanese partners left.

"We are seeking partners. We've contacted some other groups including Japanese companies," Eramet chairman and chief executive Patrick Buffet told a news conference in Tokyo.

"We think there are very few deposits of this quality," he said.

Mitsubishi Corp and Pacific Metals said in April that they will sell their stakes in the Weda Bay project to Eramet for about 11 billion yen ($108.94 million) due to slumping prices.

The project was previously put on hold due to a downturn in the nickel market. Eramet's Buffet emphasized that the project is being suspended, but not stopped.

Asked about the company's outlook on prices of nickel, which is used to make stainless steel, Paul Desportes, Eramet's vice president of sales and marketing in its nickel division, said the market would likely move higher as it will be in deficit of 50,000-70,000 metric tons this year.

"As long as deficit continues, prices will recover to the levels which are sustainable in the mid- and long-term," he said, pointing to around $14,000-17,000 per metric ton.

"What timeframe? Nobody knows," he said.

If the Philippines tightens its environmental rules, a recovery may accelerate, he said.

"But if nothing happens, it can take some time...another year or 18 months."

The Philippines' new mining minister said last Friday there would be a review of all mines operating in the country to determine whether the industry is hurting the nation.

Nickel prices were down to $9,830 per metric ton by 12:27 GMT as doubts grew about how soon any changes to mining policy would take place in the Philippines while the overall metals market was mixed due to uncertainty about Brexit.