Largest ferronickel producing company in Kosovo receives EBRD funding
The largest ferronickel producing company in Kosovo NewCo Ferronikeli (NFN) will receive an investment worth EUR 25 million from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Bank officially announced. The funds are aimed to support the energy efficiency and operational efficiency optimization of the manufacturer.
“The financing will increase NFN’s competitiveness through efficiency measures such as the installation of an ore dryer, which will reduce both the length of time in the ore smelting process and the emission of particulates.
Implementing higher environmental standards and energy efficient investments will see the company’s greenhouse gas emissions decrease by an expected 38 615 tonnes of CO2 per year. The new measures set NFN out as a leader in the sector by demonstrating how modernisation measures can contribute to a sustainable future for mining companies”, the EBRD said in a press release.
NFN today is Kosovo’s largest exporter. It was established in 1989 and privatised in 2006. The company produces and exports about 7000 tonnes of high quality nickel annually. It is one of the largest private employers in the country. NFN is majority-owned by Balfin, the largest private conglomerate group in Albania.
“NewCo Ferronikeli is a significant strategic asset to the Republic of Kosovo with great importance to the larger economy. The complex includes a nickel production plant as well as potentially rich mineral deposits beneath the surrounding landscape. 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 company said.
The NewCo Ferronikeli plant is a two-line plant it also has two electrical furnaces and two rotary kilns. It was built in 1984 with certain elements such as the electric furnaces, rotary kilns and casting machines based on Western designs.
The nickel ore is supplied to the plant from NewCo Ferronikeli’s own mines – Cikatovo and Gllavica mines or from Albania and other countries. Each process line consists of a rotary kiln, a smelter and an oxygen converter.
“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”, NFN explains the manufacturing process.
Balfin Group acquired the NewCo Ferronikeli complex in Drenas in July 2018. It is now moving forward expediently in resuming production at the plant and is in full force ahead to re-establish NewCo Ferronikeli as a leading global producer and exporter of ferronickel.
“Balfin is proud to continue our long history of working with EBRD. We have now collaborated with EBRD in all of our key countries. The investments that we are doing in Ferronikeli will ensure that it remains a competitive nickel producer in the global economy and continues to provide substantial employment in Kosovo”, Samir Mane, founder and owner of Balfin, pointed out.
“The EBRD is very pleased to support Balfin’s strategic investment to revive Ferronikeli, which is important for both Kosovo and the local community. The EBRD finance will help reduce energy costs and improve the quality of production, which should enable Ferronikeli to become a competitive exporter”, Eric Rasmussen, EBRD Director of Natural Resources, said.
The EBRD has invested over EUR 395 million in Kosovo through 65 projects since it began operations in the country in 2012. Supporting competitive development of the private sector and enhancing energy security and sustainability are key priorities for the EBRD in Kosovo.
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