Russia's Alfa Group to produce nickel in Cuba
A1 will create a joint venture in Cuba to produce nickel from tailings.
A pilot unit to test the technology of metals extraction from tailings, the residue from ore processing, will be launched in 2010 near the city of Nicaro, where 100 million tonnes of tailings are located, A1's Managing Director Alexei Mikhailovsky said in a statement. "There is not only nickel there, there is also cobalt, iron and chrome. Our task is to extract as much metal from the tailings as possible and as efficiently as possible," he said, adding that the pilot unit would show which metals could be most efficiently extracted.
"We think not only about the maximum extraction of metals, but also about economic efficiency. Thus we will design large facilities on the basis of the pilot unit. It should be a large-scale production," Mikhailovsky said.
A1, formerly known as Alfa Eco, has a history of cooperation with Cuba. In 1990s it participated in an intergovernmental sugar-for-oil barter deal supplying to Havana over 1.5 million tonnes of oil in exchange for 300,000-500,000 tonnes of raw sugar a year.