* Damage from Hurricane Sandy unclear
* Plant apparently down for three weeks
HAVANA Nov 20 A Cuban nickel plant damaged by
Hurricane Sandy more than three weeks ago is now up and running,
according to official media in Holguin province where it is
"After 10 days of intense labor by a work brigade, the
Ernesto Che Guevara Plant of Moa is operating and producing
nickel," the government-run provincial television station
reported on Monday evening.
The plant produces around 30,000 tonnes of unrefined nickel
plus cobalt annually.
Sandy passed over eastern Cuba, including Holguin province
where the country's three nickel plants are located, at the end
The nickel industry is cloaked in secrecy and Communist
authorities have provided little information about storm damage.
Cuba produced 69,700 tonnes of unrefined nickel plus cobalt
in 2010, the last official figures available.
Moa is also home to a Cuban nickel venture with Canadian
mining company Sherritt International, the Pedro Soto
Alba plant, which was reported operating, but at below capacity,
a day after the storm.
The status of the third plant, René Ramos Latourt, in Nicaro
Holguin, was unclear.
Nickel is essential in the production of stainless steel and
other corrosion-resistant alloys. Cobalt is critical in
production of super alloys used for such products as aircraft
Cuban nickel is considered to be Class II, with an average
90 percent nickel content.
Cuba's National Minerals Resource Center reported that
eastern Holguin province accounted for more than 30 percent of
the world's known nickel reserves, with lesser reserves in other
parts of the country.