Jinchuan hits acquisition trail

By Zhang Qi (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-09-08 07:29
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NANNING - Nickel producer Jinchuan Group Ltd plans to expand its nickel and copper output through overseas acquisitions, Wang Haizhou, president of Jinchuan Group, told China Daily on Tuesday.

The company will increase its nickel output from 130,000 tons last year to 200,000 tons by 2015 and boost its copper production by 45 percent to 600,000 tons in two years.

"Jinchuan is looking for overseas nickel resources in Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, South Africa, Canada, Cuba and Australia and also investing in copper projects in Chile, Peru, Kazakhstan, Congo and the Philippines, to secure raw materials and cash in on the growing demand," he said.

Wang said the company will focus on overseas acquisitions in neighboring regions such as Southeast Asia and Central Asia because of lower transportation costs as well as mature projects in developed countries.

The company is currently in talks for a nickel project in Vietnam and a copper project in Kyrgyzstan, he told China Daily.

Jinchuan on Monday raised its refined nickel price by 2,000 yuan ($296.92) to 169,000 yuan per ton. Since early July, the company has raised refined nickel prices five times, while nickel prices surged by nearly 10 percent on the London Metal Exchange (LME).

Jinchuan is expanding capacity to cash in on the rising prices and better prospects for nickel, said Wang Lixin, an analyst with consultancy firm Nickel prices skyrocketed in 2010, up more than 35 percent in the first quarter. Compared to a 3.9 percent increase in the price of copper, 2.7 percent for aluminum, 1.5 percent for gold, and 3.5 percent for silver, nickel has outperformed other metals traded on LME.

Jinchuan said in May that it will invest $4.4 billion to build a copper and nickel smelting plant in Fangchenggang, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, with an annual production capacity of 600,000 tons of copper and 110,000 tons of nickel.

The company last year bought a 51 percent stake in Zambia's sole nickel mine, with an annual capacity of 10,000 tons.

This April, it agreed to purchase a 49 percent stake in a copper project at Aktogay, Kazakhstan with Kazakhmys Plc. In the same month, it offered $150 million to buy Canadian nickel miner Crowflight Minerals Inc's assets in Manitoba and Ontario.

Nickel is a key ingredient in the manufacturing of stainless steel. Demand from stainless-steel producers slumped since the second half of 2008 due to the economic downturn. The industry has been showing signs of a pick-up since March 2009.

China Daily