A special celebration of the North Plant’s first nickel tapping was convened on Friday, April 19, with the presence of the State and Government representatives, the Northern Province’s President as well as SMSP’s and Xstrata’s representatives. The program began with a guests’ welcome ceremony, performed by the North Plant’s President, Peter Hancock, before the participants were transferred to the "First Stone" platform. Back into the plant, the delegation attended a symbolic metal casting, before meeting with some 500 KNS employees at the Vavouto life base to pay them tribute.
The North Plant achieved its first metal tapping on the 10th April 2013 at 8:35 pm. This tap came after the first slap tapping achieved at 12:55 pm the same day. The electrical furnace, pre-loaded with 230 tons of steel, has been gradually heated to approximately 1,000 degrees Celsius temperature for the constitution of the liquid bath. 1,000 tons of iron and ferronickel mixture were subsequently added to reach a total charge of about 1,200 tons for the production of this first metal tapping.
During this committee KNS has presented the general advancement of the project (including healthy, safety & environmental issues, work in progress of the construction, commissioning of the first line, human resources) while the Cellule Koniambo unit has presented the current situation on the demobilization of subcontractors working and the organization of CGE VKP.
The start heating of the electric furnace of the first production line, completed since November 2012, was carried out on January 29 at 1:25 am. "This is a major step for all of us. At the first place for our employees, but also for our partners as well as for all Caledonians. It is the first step in the process leading to final production of the first metal, scheduled for mid-March 2013", said Peter Hancock, KNS President.
An agreement between the State, represented by High Commissioner Albert Dupuy, assisted by Colonel Patrice Bellon, Commander of Adapted Military Service Regiment (RSMA) and NMC, represented by its President, André Dang Van Nha, has been signed on January 23, 2013 at Koné. This convention provides for the training of potential drivers of mining equipment, intended for 30 students, among which 14 youth from Poya and Kouaoua, identified by NMC. Under the provisions of this agreement, the State supports the full training costs while NMC is committed to hire the trainees who successfully completed their training.
SMSP and the Chinese group Jinchuan have formed a joint venture: Chinese Caledonian Mining Company SAS which is established in New Caledonia. This joint venture owned by the SMSP at 51%, is aimed at any operations relating to mining activities on or in connection with the mining assets which the company owns or will own.