MELBOURNE, Mar. 16 -- Vale SA, the world's second-biggest nickel producer, will produce the first output of the metal from the $4.3 billion Goro mine in New Caledonia by the end of this month or the start of the next after a three-month delay.
"We are going to produce first nickel by end of March, beginning of April," Peter Poppinga, executive vice-president Asia and Pacific for Vale's nickel unit, said in an e-mail in response to questions. The failure of a part of the plant, which delayed first output due in January, has been fixed, he said.
The price of nickel in London has more than doubled in the past year on surging demand in China. Production may lag behind demand this year for the first time in four years because of increased usage by stainless steelmakers, London-based metals researcher CRU said this month.
Goro will produce almost 60,000 metric tons a year once running at capacity, which may take "two plus years", Poppinga said today in the e-mail.
Nickel for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange fell 1.2 percent to close yesterday at $21,500 a metric ton. It has risen 16 percent this year.
The nickel deficit may be 20,000 metric tons this year after a surplus of 45,000 tons last year, Maartje Collignon, a CRU analyst, said March 3.