By Leia Michele Toovey – Exclusive to Nickel Investing News
Despite the week end stock rallies, fuelled by dropping crude, nickel closed the week on a quiet note. In India, on the multi-commodity exchange (MCX), the July contract was trading up 0.56%, the August contract was trading up 0.62%, and the September contract was trading down 0.82%, at market close. In the US, nickel was up 1.85% overnight. Without an abundance of activity to comment on, here is a snapshot of some key company developments.
Australia’s third-largest nickel miner, Mincor Resources NL (MCR.AX) reported a 28 percent jump in annual nickel production in fiscal 2008, taking it closer to its target of 20,000 tonnes a year. In the year ended June 30, 2008, Mincor said its mines produced 18,900 tonnes of nickel in ore, or just over 16,500 tonnes of nickel in concentrate, a 28 percent increase over the previous year. Mincor stock was 7 percent higher on Thursday, at $2.16AUS. Mincor is one of a handful of mining companies working the Kambalda veins; nearby operating BHP Billiton will release year end production figures next week. Nearby former Jubilee mining company, bought by Swiss nickel giant Xstrata (XTA.L) for about $2.8 Billion has production levels of about 8,000 tonnes less than Mincor this year.
Brilliant Mining Corp. (TSX.V: BMC), operating nearby Mincor Resources, just announced their 2008 year end. The key development for the 07-08 year was a 40% increase in nickel production. Enhanced production resulted from the addition of the Winner, and Deacon Ores to their Lanfranci Mine. An estimated 7,300 tonnes of nickel were mined from Lanfranci in the 2007/08 production year. Projections for 08-09 show a ramp-up in production to increase nickel extractions 62-69% over the 07-08 year.
Berong Nickel Corp of the Philippines is in talks to double its long-term annual supply deal with BHP Billiton to 1 million tonnes of laterite nickel ore. The current agreement to supply BHP Billiton is for five years, with the option to extend for another five. The Berong project has the potential to be the world’s fourth largest laterite nickel resource.
Another resignation at Norilsk Nickel as Olga Golodets, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, joins Ralph Morgan who stepped down earlier this week. Olga marks the third executive to tender her resignation since Vladimir Potanin was elected chairman. The future at Norilsk is shaky, with the likelihood that the two major shareholders, Potanin and Deripaska, will battle for control. Gossip within the company is that as many as 10 top mangers may depart in the coming weeks. Among those preparing to leave is Maxim Finisky, head of exploration and chief executive of Norilsk’s ventures with Rio Tinto Plc and BHP Billiton Ltd., and Dmitry Usanov, head of investor relations. Current CEO Denis Morozov steps down today. Morozov has already been offered a federal appointment in Russia, as lead of the exports division for the Kremlin.
The Philippine government has stepped in to mediate talks between BHP Billiton and local management company Asiaticus regarding the development of a new nickel mine. BHP and Asiaticus have been having difficulties over development plans for the Pujada peninsula in the southern Philippines, where nickel ore reserves have been estimated at 150 million tonnes at 1.3 percent nickel. BHP plans to invest up to $2 billion in the Philippines, including the construction of a nickel processing plant.