Top managers of Norilsk Nickel, which is taking-over LionOre International, have praised the relations between Botswana and Russia during their two-day round-up trip of Southern Africa as they prepare to mop-up the remaining shareholder in the next few weeks.
The world’s leading nickel producer managed to get close to 98 percent of LionOre International last Monday after an extended deadline but by Friday Norilsk Nickel told The Sunday Standard that it is launching a legal acquisition to get the remaining two percent of the company.
“The intention of the visit to Botswana was to introduce the new shareholders to Botswana authorities,” Norilsk Nickel’s head for Africa, Peter Breese told The Sunday Standard in a telephone interview from Johannesburg.
The Norislk Nickel delegation included its head for Africa, Peter Breese, Thomas Rodgers, who is the Business and Development Director, and the former LionOre head for Africa, Gerherd Potgieter. The Botswana delegation was led by Minerals, Energy and Water Affairs Minister, Ponatshego Kedikilwe.
Breese said the visit was motivated by the fact that they have acquired almost 98 percent of the company but stressed that Norilsk Nickel does not intend to change any agreements made between LionOre International and the Botswana government.
“We are not intending to change anything,” Breese said, adding that “since we have acquired 98 percent of the company and now we are proceeding with the legal acquisition which should be completed in a month or so.”
The move is expected to set in motion the automatic delisting of LionOre International from the four bourses of Australia, Botswana, London and Toronto stock exchanges.
“After the legal acquisition has been completed then the delisting of LionOre will be automatic, but, there is no definite answer as to whether we will be able to list on the Botswana Stock Exchange.
“However, we have engaged our advisors regarding the possible listing on the Botswana Stock Exchange right now they have now come back to us on that,” Breese said immediately after landing at Johannesburg International Airport from the inspection of the Activox at Tati Nickel mine in Botswana.
LionOre International became attractive because of its rich nickel resources at Tati Nickel mine ÔÇösome 45 kilometers south-east of Francistown and its reserves in South Africa and Australia and its trailblazing technology Activox.
The technology Activox which uses leaching technique that eliminates the traditional and costly smelting process and also makes the previously small ore that was considered unprofitable to the commercial viable.
The technology ÔÇö- the first of its kind in the world ÔÇô is currently under construction at Tati Nickel mine and was tightly held under LionOre International’s intellectual property and patent rights. It is expected to be completed by 2009.
Norilsk Nickel, which became the world’s leading nickel miner following the bid for LionOre International is named after the town of Norilsk located 300 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, and 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 does not have direct government control following its privatization in 1997 has a market value of US $ 36 billion.
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.