A strengthened leadership position: the operation of one of the largest nickel deposits in the world
The Weda Bay Nickel (WBN) project is an industrial and mining project under development, aiming to recover one of the largest nickel deposits in the world, located on the island of Halmahera in Indonesia. WBN is a strategic and transforming project for the ERAMET group. The final decision on investment in this project will be made by the Board of Directors some time in 2013.
The industrial challenges
Starting up a new sustainable operation
The deposits located on the island of Halmahera are part of the largest undeveloped deposits of lateritic nickel in the world. Studies conducted since the late 1990s have demonstrated that the WBN deposit, with a nickel content of more than 7 million tons, can satisfy extraction requirements for more than 50 years. After an initial extraction phase totalling 35,000 tons of nickel and 1,300 tons of cobalt, the eventual aim is to increase production to 65,000 tons of nickel and 4,000 tons of cobalt, with approximately 3,500 people working on site.
ERAMET partnered with Mitsubishi Corporation in 2009, the first Japanese investor in Indonesia, and, in 2011, with Pacific Metals Co. Ltd., the first Japanese producer of ferronickel, to develop the project. In addition, PT (Persero) Aneka Tambang Tbk (PT Antam), an Indonesian state-owned mining operator, is also a partner.
WBN has also developed partnerships with the government of Indonesia, the local government of the province of North Maluku, the governments of the districts of East Halmahera and Central Halmahera, and, of course, the communities of the island of Halmahera. In 2011, WBN was adopted as one of 17 strategic projects supporting the Indonesian president's master plan promoting the acceleration and expansion of Indonesian economic development.
Implementing a new hydrometallurgical process at atmospheric pressure
WBN will use a hydrometallurgical process of sulfuric acid leaching at atmospheric pressure developed by the ERAMET group. This process offers the best guarantees for managing technological and environmental risk, and minimizes CO2 emissions. The ERAMET group, through WBN, aims to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels in the future.
This integrated process will enable the refinement of nickel and cobalt on site, and the creation of all of the locally added value in Indonesia, in accordance with the objectives of the Indonesian authorities.
The social and environmental challenges
Environmental and social action
WBN strives to implement the highest international standards in terms of the reduction and attenuation of, or the compensation for, the environmental, social or health impacts of the project. The WBN project is being developed in accordance with the "Equator Principles" and the performance criteria of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) within the framework of Indonesian law and best mining and industrial practices developed within the ERAMET group.
The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) of the World Bank is already supporting the project in its initial phase of construction studies. This guarantee was granted following impact studies and in-depth audits, conducted in accordance with the principles of the World Bank.
Supporting local community development
WBN supports a local development program in the 21 villages near the project, based on education, health care, development of socio-economic activities and environmental and cultural initiatives, and the development of local infrastructures.
ERAMET has also created the Saloi foundation, which promotes partnerships with non-governmental organizations or public or private entities involved in the development of the region.
Protecting the existing biodiversity
We believe that WBN should have a positive impact in terms of biodiversity. WBN strives to develop an ecological compensation program in situ, aiming to not bring about any net loss and to generate, preferably, a net gain of biodiversity on the island of Halmahera.
The characterization studies of the initial condition conducted as part of this project have improved knowledge of the biodiversity and ecology of the island, with respect to habitats and the flora and fauna.
The project acknowledges the richness of the biodiversity of Halmahera. It engages recognized national and international specialists to conduct studies and develop management plans in the region. The environmental teams have worked in close collaboration with the technical teams on the design, the selection of the sites and the minimization of the project footprint on the site.
ERAMET's Weda Bay Nickel project has joined the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Program (BBOP). This program, involving 80 companies, financial institutions, governments and non-governmental organizations, aims to promote the exchange of experiences and expertise with regard to biodiversity.