NEW YORK Domestic nickel market participants say they
dont anticipate any notable changes in nickel
availability if workers strike at BHP Billiton Plcs Cerro
Matoso mine in Colombia.
Local union official Domingo Hernandez said mine workers have
threatened a work stoppage if employee Jamer Ledesma is
disciplined for an alleged breach of safety procedure,
according to media reports.
Hernandez told AMM that Ledesma would meet with the company at
a disciplinary hearing Feb. 14, and that the union would
subsequently review its options, he said Feb. 12.
The Cerro Matoso nickel operation, which combines a nickel mine
and ferronickel smelter, is described by BHP as the
worlds second-largest ferronickel producer.
Market sources told AMM that global ferronickel and nickel
supply is strong enough to outweigh any changes in production
at the mine though.
Everybody has ferronickel; its coming out the
wazoo, said one consumer, who said his company uses an
average of 120 gross tons a month. There are people
calling us every day saying theyve got it, so I
dont think therell be a shortage. Theres
Nickel vendors also told AMM that global supply is strong
enough that even if ferronickel consumers are forced to change
their feedstock to regular nickel, it would be unlikely that
availability would be affected significantly.
Business is slow, and theres a tremendous amount of
material out there, one seller said. The
ferronickel market would have to be horrendous for them to
switch to nickel.
The Cerro Matoso smelter produced 48,900 tonnes of ferronickel
in the year ended June 30, 2012, according to BHP (
amm.com, July 18
BHP Billiton declined to comment.