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Sulphuric Acid on the WebTM Technical Manual DKL Engineering, Inc.

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Acid Plant Database  October 9, 2020

Owner Goro Nickel S.A.S.

Goro-Nickel-Logo.gif (1100 bytes)Vale-Inco-Logo.jpg (10987 bytes)

Location

New Caledonia

Background

2010 - Name changed to Vale Nouvelle-Calédonie S.A.S.
2008 - Name changed to Vale Inco New Caledonia S.A.S.
        - Vale Inco Nouvelle-Calédonie S.A.S.

Vale Inco (74%)
Sumic Nickel Netherland B.V. (21%)
la Société de Participation Minière du Sud Calédonien or SPMSC (5%)

Website www.vale.nc (Old: www.goronickel.nc)
www.goronickel-icpe.nc
Plant -
Coordinates* 22° 19' 54" S, 166° 54' 45" E
Type of Plant Sulphur Burning
Gas Source Elemental Sulphur
Plant Capacity 4800 MTPD H2SO4
2 x 25 MTPD Liquid SO2
SA/DA DA
Status Operating
Year Built 2008
Technology Outotec
Contractor -
Remarks -
Pictures Goro-Nickel-1.jpg (241533 bytes)  Goro-Nickel-2.jpg (195080 bytes)
2006 Construction       Goro Nickel 4.jpg (134893 bytes)  Goro Nickel 5.jpg (118810 bytes)

Goro-Nickel-6.jpg (145540 bytes)  Goro-Nickel-Layout.jpg (126970 bytes)  Goro-Nickel-7.jpg (50661 bytes)  Goro-Nickel-8.bmp (1456974 bytes)  Goro-Nickel-9.jpg (104606 bytes) Oschatz Boiler

General Goro Nickel S.A.S. is responsible for the commercial mining of the nickel and cobalt deposit in the Goro plateau in the south of New Caledonia’s main island (Known locally as “Grande Terre”). The laterite deposit at Goro has one of the highest nickel contents in the world.
References -
News

October 9, 2020 - The Brazilian miner Vale has reconfirmed that it will shut its nickel plant in New Caledonia, which is likely to trigger massive job losses.  Its CFO Luciano Siani Pires has told Bloomberg TV the plant's competitiveness hasn't been what it should be and will be closed next year.  He said no buyer has been found for the asset.  Last month, New Century Resources of Australia pulled out of a preliminary deal to acquire the plant, saying it could not generate a structure suitable for all shareholders.  Mr Pires said negotiations with Tesla to provide cobalt and nickel for car batteries are based on supplies from Canada and not New Caledonia.  The government of the Southern province said all efforts would be made to save the 3000 jobs at risk in order to prevent a meltdown of New Caledonia's economy.  Pro-independence parties and customary leaders opposed to the sale said the plant should go into majority ownership of New Caledonian interests.  Vale put its 95 percent stake in the plant up for sale in December after running up losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars.


September 8, 2020
- Brazilian miner Vale said it will start to place its New Caledonia nickel and cobalt operation on care and maintenance with a view to a possible shutdown, after it failed to agree terms to sell the operation to New Century Resources Ltd. (NCZ).  Vale Canada Ltd (VCL) has been unable to reach an agreement with NCZ to acquire its 95% stake in Vale Nouvelle Caledonie S.A.S. (VNC), Vale said late Sept. 7.  That ended an exclusivity period with NCZ that was announced on May 25 and extended on July 28 until Sept. 8.  "The initial search for potential purchasers for VNC followed a robust and competitive process that involved an extensive analysis of expertise and capacity as well as a commitment to upholding VNC's social and environmental obligations," Vale said.  Vale, the world's largest nickel producer, with operations in Brazil, Canada and Indonesia as well as the southwest Pacific territory of New Caledonia, produced 208,000 mt of finished nickel in 2019.  It had held negotiations on a potential sale of VNC with Chinese parties before embarking on exclusive negotiations with NCZ.  Now, however, all the alternatives being considered for VNC's viable future contemplate Vale's exit from the operation, Vale CEO Eduardo Bartolomeo said in a statement.  "Vale will now start the required steps to place VNC on care and maintenance, in preparation for a possible shutdown of the operation, should no sustainable solution be found in the coming months. At the same time, the company is continuing efforts with the French State, the South Province of New Caledonia and VNC management to achieve a positive outcome for the future for the operations," the company said.NCZ, which operates the Century zinc mine in Queensland, said Sept. 8 that negotiations with different stakeholders had failed to generate a funding package and equity structure for VNC which would adequately accommodate a suitable risk or reward scenario for New Century's shareholders.  NCZ had reportedly been seeking funding of at least $900 million in equity and debt contributions to fund a simplification plan and general working capital of the VNC operation.  VNC has been dogged by environmental protest and refinery issues since its Goro nickel and cobalt mine started up in 2011.  Its processing plant is designed to produce up to 57,000 mt a year of nickel. The on-site refinery was designed to produce an 80/20 split of nickel oxide and a mixed hydroxide product, with cobalt produced as cobalt carbonate and in the mixed hydroxide.  Nickel production at the site last year was 23,400 mt, down from 32,500 mt in 2018.  S&P Global Platts reported earlier this year that a project was under way to convert Goro to a low-impurity limonite-only feed, decommission the refinery and switch to a 100% mixed hydroxide product.


July 2012
- Vale-Inco has suspended operations at its Goro nickel project in New Caledonia, declaring force majeure on its sales and purchase agreements, following an accident at the sulphuric acid plant.  Acid leaked following corrosion damage to pipes.  The company said that there were no injuries to workers or other personnel at the site and no ecological damage resulting from the incident, but repairs are expected to lead to further delays to the troubled project, already running years behind schedule and at double the originally budegted cost of $1.9 billion.  At capacity Goro will produce 60,000 t/a of nickel and 4,500 t/a of cobalt, consuming 500,000 t/a of sulphur at the 1.6 million t/a sulphuric acid plant.

May 10, 2012
- Vale, the world's second-biggest nickel producer, said on Thursday it would suspend sales and purchase agreements at its Goro project on the French Pacific island of New Caledonia after an accident at the mine's sulfuric acid plant.  Rio de Janeiro-based Vale declared "force majeure" after the accident, a legal term allowing a company to ignore contractual obligations when faced with events outside of its control.  The declaration affects shipments to a single Vale client and shipments from a group of suppliers, Vale said.  No one was hurt and no ecological damage resulted from the accident, the company said. Sulfuric acid is used in the high-pressure acid-leaching process of refining nickel ore.  The company is evaluating the conditions at the plant and will only be able to give additional information when that evaluation is complete, Vale said.  The Goro project, which is expected to become the world's largest nickel mine, is designed to produce as much as 60,000 tonnes a year of nickel and 4,600 tonnes of cobalt a year.  The project's output would then be 3.5 percent of estimated global output of about 1.7 million tonnes of nickel this year.  Vale began ramping up output at Goro in the fourth quarter and produced 4,000 tonnes of nickel in the first three months of 2012, Vale said.  Goro's start-up was delayed several years and costs soared to more than $4 billion from $1.9 billion, after protests by local islanders raised environmental concerns and soaring commodities prices boosted equipment and engineering costs.


May 28, 2010
- As from today, Vale Inco Nouvelle-Calédonie is taking the name Vale Nouvelle-Calédonie.  This name change constitutes the logical culmination of Inco's progressive integration into the Vale Group since 2006.  Vale Nouvelle-Calédonie will retain invaluable technological know-how from Inco, due to which it has been possible to conceive the hydro-metallurgy process for the benefit of New Caledonia’s industrial development.

April 26, 2010 - Vale said on Monday that it had partially halted commissioning work at its already delayed Goro nickel operation in New Caledonia following an acid spill.  Vale Inco spokesman Cory McPhee said the company was investigating the spill of 690 cubic metres of acid-containing solution. He said the spill had been "contained", and had caused no injuries or damage to the external environment.  The project, which is expected to eventually produce 60,000 tonnes of nickel a year, has been repeatedly delayed over the past 18 months. Part of that delay was due to a smaller acid spill a year ago which made it into the outside environment.   The company said last week that it was getting closer to production, but had been delayed due to "hiccups" in the commissioning.  McPhee declined to speculate on how the spill might impact the timeline.  "It's too early for us to speculate on that," he said.  "This just happened. We just want to make sure we're diligent and looking at what took place so we understand why and to prevent it from happening in the future," he said.  He said commissioning had been stopped in the extraction unit where the spill occurred, but was continuing elsewhere.  The $4.3 billion project, located in the French island territory of New Caledonia in the South Pacific, has been closely watched as it is one of a new breed of large nickel laterite mines that are expected to account for a growing proportion of global nickel supply.

Goro Acid Spill Report

April 7, 2009 - Local associations and the Southern province of New Caledonia were in uproar at the weekend after it transpired last week that thousands of liters of sulphuric acid have accidentally been spilled into the environment, killing thousands of fauna and flora species, reports Oceania Flash.  The incident was reported to have occurred on Wednesday last week at the construction site of the huge nickel mining project driven by Brazilian giant Vale, in the south of the main island, near Goro.  But the major spill — of an estimated one to five thousand liters of sulphuric acid, especially in the nearby river — only became public later in the week.  The nickel mining site was scheduled to be commissioned later this year and the spill resulted from preliminary tests conducted in the past few months, ahead of the commissioning.  Southern province President Philippe Gomès, who went to the scene on Friday, expressed anger at the accident, saying on at least two grounds, this was not acceptable on the part of Vale-Goro, because it was infringing of the company’s obligations.  Gomès said one of those grounds was that it seemed Vale-Goro had manufactured thousands of liters of acid, which is the basis chosen for the extraction process of nickel, even before a buffer pool aimed at avoiding such incidents was completed.  As a result, the whole of the acid, leaked from what has been described as a faulty pipe connection, went straight into the environment, which is already globally recognized for its biodiversity.   Vale-Goro technicians later managed to neutralize high acidity levels, but environment organizations said the damage had been done already.  Gomès also expressed anger at the fact that Southern province authorities were only notified of the spill nearly thirty hours after the disaster occurred.  “It’s like bringing back the water temperature from 100 degrees Celsius to 20 degrees Celsius. You can do that, but it’s too late,” World Wildlife Fund local representative Hubert Géraux told local media, adding this was tantamount to an “environment disaster.”   Last year, in the same region, New Caledonia’s lagoons received world recognition from the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural organization and saw this site added to the list of Natural World Heritage places.  As a precautionary measure, the Southern Province of New Caledonia, which issued the permits for Goro’s operations, has announced it was pursuing the matter in court, but is also from now on and until further notice placing a ban of the production of acid.  New Caledonia hold about a quarter of the world’s known nickel ore reserves.  The Vale-Goro plant is scheduled, when in full production, to reach a yearly capacity of some sixty thousand tons of nickel and five thousand tons of cobalt.  It represents a capital investment of over $2 billion.

October 26, 2009 - An analyst says one of the biggest mining projects in the world, New Caledonia’s Vale-Inco, could be in for a rough start should production begin next year.  The nickel plant is now expected to be up and running by January.  The launch has been delayed several times due to technical problems, including a huge spill at its sulphuric acid plant, which is now being re-designed.  A senior analyst at Ord Minnett in Australia, Peter Arden, says there’s currently a surplus of nickel on the market.  “We’ve seen a significant build up of stockpiles of nickel. And we have not only the New Caledobia project about to start, but there are two other projects also which are building up, one in PNG the other in Brazil, that will also impact on this saturated supply, so we’re quite intrigued that the nickel price held up as it has.”   Peter Arden says the current market seems to be in denial of that fact, but a slump in price is expected next year.

MTPD - Metric Tonne per Day           STPD - Short Ton per Day
MTPA - Metric Tonne per Annum      STPA - Short Ton per Annum
SA - Single Absorption
DA - Double Absorption
 

* Coordinates can be used to locate plant on Google Eart