Cunico Resources acquired the NewCo Ferronikeli complex in Drenas in April 2006, following the completion of a successful privatisation process.
The complex includes a nickel production plant as well as potentially rich mineral deposits beneath the surrounding landscape. The plant, located in Drenas, was in a state of disrepair at the time of our purchase, as a result of bombing during the Kosovo conflict in year 1999 and subsequent general neglect. Since its acquisition however, Cunico Resources has been able to refurbish the NewCo Ferronikeli plant and in 2007, it was successfully re-commissioned. Our investments in the plant have now begun to pay off; last year the plant produced over 6000 tons of ferronickel and with the current plant dynamics and projects, this will increase to more than 10,000 tonnes.
Indications of the existence of nickel ores in Kosovo , had already been discovered in 1958. The nickel ore deposits in the Kosovo are of oxide laterite type. The NewCo Ferronikeli plant is a two line plant. It was built in 1984 using largely Soviet technology, but with certain elements such as the electric furnaces, rotary kilns and casting machines, based on Western designs.
Ferronickel production at NewCo Ferronikeli
The nickel ore is supplied to the plant from Cunico Resources’ Chikatovo and Gllavica mines and elsewhere in the region, and from third party sources.
The laterite oxide then undergoes specific preparation in hammer crushers. This is followed by homogenization and the blending of the ore with lignite to further prepare it for processing. The blended materials are then placed in the rotary kilns, where reduction and calcinations take place. From the rotary kilns, the ore is moved into the electric reduction furnaces, where approximately 50% of the sulphur in the iron/nickel alloy is removed. The remaining sulphur is removed from the liquid metal in the oxygen converters, and the iron/nickel alloy is then cast into ferronickel granules.
Each process line consists of a rotary kiln, a smelter and an oxygen converter. Ore is delivered to the plant by road or rail.