FRANCISTOWN: Moscow-based Mining and Metallurgical Company (MMC) Norilsk Nickel approved Tati Nickel Mining Company's (TNMC) action plan that extends the mine's life to 2016 last week .
The mine was initially forecast to close down this year due to low mineral grades coupled with high operational costs.A press release from Norilsk Nickel headquarters in Moscow dated July 2, 2013 states that the world leading producer of nickel and palladium has approved to maintain concentrate production levels until 2016 by increasing ore output in the situation of low nickel grades found at Tati."The company shall reduce the cost of all operations, including those carried out by contractors by 10 percent," reads the press statement. Norilsk Nickel, ranked among the world's top 10 copper producers, also promised to improve sales and logistics conditions. The Russian mining outfit was pleased that TNMC management has already started the implementation of the action plan and achieved some success.
"Preliminary negotiations with contractors were held with positive response received. Negotiations aimed at the improvement of ore and concentrate transportation conditions to smelting facilities are underway," a document passed over to Mmegi Business reveals.TNMC, according to information posted on Norilsk Nickel website, is negotiating better payment conditions for processed and delivered products with the processor and buyers.
"The company is also negotiating tax incentives, ability to hire foreign skilled labour and other support measures with the government of Botswana also very interested in the work of the Tati Nickel mine," Norilsk Nickel statement further says.
Norilsk Nickel's plan for TNMC is set to continue with exploration drilling at Phoenix deposit and a geological exploration of Selkirk deposit. It will also consider, amongst others, the cost efficiency of Selkirk deposit development, which is under appraisal. Selkirk operation has been placed on care and maintenance since 2002.TNMC communications manager Tebogo
He indicated that TNMC principals in Moscow have discounted the mining model up to 40 percent."TNMC recoveries processes have been lowered since we are dealing with low grades and it does not put pressure on the mineral that is already of a low grade," he said.He pointed out that although the end of the mine's life was initially marked as 2015, the TNMC rescue plan has placed it officially at 2016.He described the visit by first deputy general director of Norilsk Nickel Evgeny Yakovlev to TNMC last May as one of the major boosts to the Botswana operation.
Rapitsenyane stressed that for the TNMC action plan to succeed, it also requires employees to be more innovative and productive. "No element of the strategy should be missed," he emphasised.The Norilsk Nickel move answers the recent flurry of speculation that the Russian metal giant may suspend operations at Tati Nickel Mine after a sharp drop in metal prices.It also settles the minds of TNMC employees who were already in panic mode as they pondered their future at the nickel mining giant.
In May, TNMC came up with a rescue plan known as the ABC strategy. The strategy articulated the mine's plan out of the difficult situation it is faced with. In the strategy, A stands for increase production, B for savings or cash preservation while C is for negotiate new, improved commercial terms of concentrate sales and treatment.Initially, Norilsk Nickel had indicated that in the event the ABC strategy failed, then the TNMC operation would close end of this year.