Nickel Asia says attack to delay Philippine plant

MANILA, Oct 18 (Reuters) – Philippine miner Nickel Asia Corp said an attack by Maoist rebels on its Taganito mine earlier this month will push back by a couple of months the planned mid-2013 launch of a $1.4 billion nickel processing plant adjacent to the mine.

Around $70 million of equipment was destroyed in the an Oct. 3 attack by hundreds of Maoists, the government estimated, but Nickel Asia, which is part owned by Japan’s Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd , was able to restart production two days later.

“We saw no significant damage to the processing plant but, of course, the attacks will minimally impact the timetable. We see a delay, probably a couple of months,” Nickel Asia chief executive Gerard Brimo told reporters on Tuesday.

Nickel Asia’s ore sales in the first nine months rose to 8.3 million wet metric tonnes (WMT) worth 8.9 billion pesos ($205 million) in January to September, from 5.8 million WMT worth 5.7 billion pesos in the same period last year.

“In spite of what happened to our Taganito mine, we will still meet our target ore sales of about 10 million tonnes this year,” he told reporters at an investor forum.

“Our revenue is growing, driven by continuing high demand for our ore in China,” Brimo said.

Brimo also said Nickel Asia has put in place additional security measures at the mine in the southern Philippines in consultation with the military and police, but declined to elaborate.

Last week, the army said companies would need to pay for military-organised militias to protect the mines.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/18/nickelasia-plant-idUSL3E7LI1BD20111018

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