HAVANA -- Cuba and Venezuela began constructing a US$700-million ferronickel plant in western Cuba, the official weekly Trabajadores reported on Monday.
The plant will be built by the Cuban-Venezuelan enterprise Quality Cuba SA in three years and will produce 68,000 tons of ferronickel, a component of stainless steel, every year.
"This plant will nearly double the productive potential of the Cuban nickel industry," said the weekly.
The new plant, located in Moa in the Holguin province, is "one of the largest industrial investment in the country," Trabajadores added.
Moa is a nickel-rich region, where there are two other joint ventures, one of them with the Canadian company Sherritt.
Cuba produces about 75,000 tons of nickel per year, but its contribution to the economy was reduced from US$2.14 billion in 2007 to only 873 million dollars in 2009 due to a drastic fall in international prices.
Venezuela is Cuba's main trading partner and supplier of 100,000 barrels of oil daily on favorable payment terms, while Havana provides doctors and other professionals to Caracas.