KOLKATA: Hindustan Copper Limited (HCL) has inaugurated the country’s first facility to produce nickel, a metal for which the country is completely dependent on imports. The new facility— Nickel, Copper and Acid Recovery Plant is located at the company’s Indian Copper Complex (ICC) at Ghatshila in Jharkhand. Poised to be the only unit in India to produce nickel metal of (London Metal Exchange) LME grade, the facility was inaugurated by Balvinder Kumar, secretary, ministry of mines on Wednesday. The metal is primarily used to make stainless steel.

The capacity of the plant is initially poised to be 50 tonnes per annum, given the current production rate from the Surda mines. However, the nickel output is expected to increase nearly eight times after the completion of mine expansion projects located at Ghatsila, an official statement from the company said. Annual demand for pure nickel in India is around 45,000 tonne and its domestic market is solely reliant on imports.

Incidentally, the Singhbhum Copper Belt has unique ore characteristics which contains appreciable quantity of nickel. This prompted HCL to instal and commission the technology to recover the metal.

The project will utilize eco-friendly technology and help check pollution, eliminate use of lead, reduce liquid effluents and cut down solid waste by 75%. It will also utilise less energy, provide a safe working environment and conserve natural resources, the statement added.

Besides the mines secretary, top officials of HCL who were present at the event included, K D Diwan, chairman, Anupam Anand, director (personnel), V V Venugopal Rao, director (finance), S .K. Bhattacharya, director (mining), Santosh Sharma, director (operations), D K Choudhury, GM, ICC, and Sanjay Singh DGM(W), ICC.

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