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Economic boom seen in Surigao, Japanese firm invests $ 1.7 B in mining project

Economic boom is seen in Surigao del Norte province as a big Japanese firm decided to form a US$ 1.7 billion joint venture with a local mining firm in Taganito town, this was learned yesterday.

The Sumitomo Metal Mining Ltd. (SMML) has decided to form a new joint venture to study the construction of a 30,000 tons per year new High Pressure Acid Leach (HPAL) project adjacent to the Taganito Mining Corporation (Taganito HPAL Project) in Taganito.

The Taganito HPAL project is expected to increase SMML’s production in the Philippines to 50,000 tons of nickel metal content per year, it was gathered.

Concurrently, the SMML has the US$ 200 million Coral Bay Nickel Corporation (CBNC) High Pressure Acid Leach (HPAL) project in Rio Tuba, Palawan.

The CBNC has also invested an additional US$ 300 million to redouble the capacity of the project to at least 20,000 tons of nickel/metal content per year by April 2009.

It was gathered that these projects already commenced operations in April 2005.

Nobumasa Kemori, president of SMML, sees that production of the Taganito HPAL project, combined with that of the Coral Bay Rio, will account for about five percent of world nickel production, putting the Philippines firmly on the forefront of world nickel production.

"If the nickel ore shipments of Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp. are combined with our HPAL production, then the Philippines will enjoy a seven percent share of total world production, said Kemori, in his letter to President Arroyo.

Earlier, the SMML head wrote a letter to President Arroyo asking for support on the Taganito HPAL project to be operational on the target date.

The SMML, who plans to start their operation on April next year in Taganito, asked the President in resolving some local issues.

The Department of the Environment and Natural Resources – Mines-Geo Sciences Bureau (DENR-MGB) have already approved the Environment Clearance Certificate (ECC) to the SMML-Taganito HPAL project last September 3.

When the joint venture started, the SMML targeted to generate some 5,000 local employment, it was also learned. (Mike U. Crismundo, MB)

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