Tati Nickel Mine, Botswana’s operations of Norilsk Nickel giant, said Tuesday that it is “cautiously optimistic” about the global base metal prices’ recovery that brought hope of a re-bound of an economic boom that once twinkled the economy of the northern parts of the country.
Sebetela Sebetela, General Manager of Tati Nickel Mine, said nickel prices are steadily above the US $15,000 per tonne mark ÔÇô in the international markets, suggesting that if they remain that high, the company will “keep its head above water”.
Tati Nickel mine was hit by the global economic crisis that prompted its call for “voluntary separation” with some of its employees while on the other hand it indefinitely put the Selkirk mine under care and maintenance.
The move was prompted by the collapse in nickel consumption and prices, which dropped from US $50,000 per tonne to around US $8 000 per tonne in the latter part of last year until they steadily recovered by towards mid this year.
“The prices of nickel have been volatile. They have been sort of up today and down tomorrow,” he said, as he described the zigzag mood of the fall from the high to the lows of US $8,000 and up to US $20/21, 000 per ton by midyear before easing to US $19,000 per ton at the moment.
That shows an improvement of 45 percent year-to-date on nickel prices while copper prices are 52 percent better.
“The main problem has been prices and consumption levels. There has been recovery in the prices of these materials but I do not think there has been an improvement in consumption.
“I think the level of economic activities has not yet built to the levels where there is significant level of consumption,” he added.
Tati Nickel mine fell in the hands of the Russian miner, Norilsk from Canadian nickel producer LionOre.
On Wednesday, Norilsk’s chief executive officer, Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, told international news organizations that his company is bound to bounce back to profit in the second half given the trends in the base metal markets.
“Judging by current price level, we expect profit,” he told Reuters television.
He expressed comfort with the current levels of inventories saying that they have “stopped rising” and expect Norilsk’s Russia assets to produce 231, 000 – 323,000 tonnes of nickel this year.
Foreign assets are expected to produce about 70,000 tonnesÔÇöand Botswana is to account for 22,000 tonnes of the total.
The company further announced that it had cleared all its finance debt instruments that were due. The total amount of the debt instruments was 500 million euros.