ERAMET’s Nickel division is a fully-integrated producer that extracts nickel ore from its mines in New Caledonia and transforms it locally into ferronickel (FeNi) and nickel matte at its Doniambo plant. The nickel matte is then transformed into very high-purity nickel metal and salts at our Sandouville plant in France.
Learn more about ERAMET’s activities by clicking on some numbered steps.
Step 1: Ore extraction
SLN operates six mining centers in New Caledonia:
- Kouaoua, one of the world's largest deposits;
- Népoui, located in the heart of the Kopéto mountains;
- Etoile du Nord;
- Poum, in the extreme north of the island of Grande-Terre.
The ore extracted from these deposits contains nickel and cobalt.
Step 2: Ore transformation
At Doniambo (New Caledonia), the ore is unloaded from three ships chartered all year by SLN to provide the link to the mining centers. The ore is unloaded and then stored in blending units, dried, charred by smelting reduction and then processed as follows:
- 80% is used to produce ferronickel;
- the remaining 20% is used to make nickel matte.
Step 3: Ferronickel marketing
Step 3a: Nickel matte transformation at Sandouville
The Sandouville plant (France) applies a hydrometallurgy process to transform the matte received from its Finnish supplier and recovers the nickel, cobalt and iron it contains. It then produces:
- very high purity nickel metal (99.99% Ni);
- very high purity nickel chloride (NiCl2) in crystallized, liquid and anhydrous form;
- very high purity nickel carbonate (NiCO3);
- liquid cobalt chloride (CoCl2);
- liquid ferric chloride (FeCl3).
The rest of the matte, which is composed of copper and platinum-group metals, is sent back to Finland for recovery.
Step 4: Production at Eurotungstène
The Eurotungstène plant in Grenoble (France) produces tungsten and cobalt powders.
Step 5: Markets
Step 6: End-applications