Norilsk Nickel, the Russian mining entity, said Thursday that it is committed to Botswana and the rest of southern Africa as it tilted on the verge of acquiring the entire shareholding of the world’s tenth largest nickel miner, LionOre International.
The Russian mining outfit’s move pushed it from being the world’s sixth largest producer to the leading role as it forked-out US $ 6.8 billion as a golden hand shake for the then existing shareholders.
By this week, the Russians were in control of 90 percent of the company ÔÇô save for the long dated papersÔÇö bondsÔÇöwhose make up is formed by the lending banks.
“Norilsk is aware that Asia and Africa are the only areas to go to. And one of the big factors that influenced the Noriolsk decision was the Activexox system,” Norilsk Nickle’s head for Africa, Peter Breese, told a Resource Sector conference in Gaborone this week.
“This is under experimental stage in Botswana. And we are proud that it brings along with it a very knowledge-based system.
Activox is the world’s trail-blazing technology aimed at enhancing the extraction of nickel, which was developed at a time when international prices were in a state of slum and also try to address the problem of demands and supply.
The technology became the focal of bidding war between the Swedish Xstrata Nickel and Norilsk Nickel during the second quarter of this year. Norilsk emerged the winner after paying a premium from Xstrata’s counter offer.
Last week, Norilsk, a company named after the town of Norilsk located 300 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, began life as a Soviet forced labour camp under the rule of Stalin in 1935. The company is one of the very few giant Russian operations which are not under direct government control following its privatization in 1997. It has a market value of US $ 36 billion.
“One of the big factors for acquisition was the Activox technology and it is going to build the portfolio for Norilsk. It brings with it a facility of knowledge. That is why they (Norilsk) want us to stay as the management so that we can run this technology,” said Breese who used to run Africa for LionOre.
However, he said the tri-listed LionOre International is expected to de-list from the Australia, London and Botswana stock exchanges from August 13 after the long dated bond holders have been converted and cleared by Norilsk.
“The bond holders are banks and we expect them to convert to ordinary shares and be given their interest within the extended time. After that we expect to see the company de-listing. However, we have recommended to Norilsk to do a new listing in all the three markets and that is being evaluated,” Breese said.
His comments came after a full week induction course in Vodka drinking Moscow, where they were given details on how the new company is going to operate.
“We have negotiated competitive set of arrangements with Botswana government. And we would like to continue with that valued added proposition,” he said, adding that they would like to change the nickel business world-wide from their operation in Botswana.
“Instead of making a concentrate and exporting, we are going to export it as a finished product,” he added.
LionOre International has some interest at Tati Nickel mine and BCL in Botswana, Nkomati mine in South Africa where it holds 50 percent and Australia.
Meanwhile, Norilsk is involved in the production of a number of minerals such as nickel, palladium, platinum and copper. It also owns cobalt mines, rhodium, silver gold, tellurium, selenium, iridium and ruthenium.