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Norilsk Nickel Abandons Globalization Ambitions
May 26, 2006 15:10

The dreams of becoming a transnational corporation seem to have vanished in the new development policy the Norilsk Nickel is expected to announce by the end of May.

Inward-bound trends have won over expansionism in a company controlled by Vladimir Potanin and Mikhail Prokhorov, reports Russian daily Vedomosti. The corporation is likely to concentrate its efforts on the developments on the Kola and Taimyr Peninsula. There might be political reasons behind, believe some experts.

The Norilsk Nickel Mining and Metal Processing Plant (NorNickel) is the world’s largest producer of platinum metals and nickel. The first half of 2005 saw the net profit at $974m, with the revenues totaling $3.44bn. Last year, the company produced 243,000 tonnes of nickel, 452,000 tonnes of copper, 97,400 tonnes of palladium and 23,400 tonnes of platinum.

In 2005, NorNickel built up Russia’s largest gold ore corporation Polus Zoloto, and two weeks ago preliminary tradings indicated the newly set up company is worth some $12.77bn, or 25 times more than the funds NorNickel spent on the acquisition of gold ore assets of the Polus Zoloto. NorNickel has given over money and assets, but has retained its liabilities. The authorized capital of Polus Zoloto makes up 190,627,747 shares with a face value of 1 rouble.

According to Bloomberg agency, Polus Zoloto is now fifth in the world in terms of capitalization, trailing after Canadian Barrick Gold ($26.7bn), American Newmont ($25.17bn), South African AngloGold ($14.9 bn) and Canadian GoldCorp ($13.67bn).

In the meantime, Polus Zoloto has floated its shares on RTS and MICEX, plans to issue 1 level ADRs, and has promised a 9% increase in the production of gold, which will amount to 1.2 million ounces.

The new development strategy to be reviewed by the board of directors features plans until 2020. The company no longer thinks of its diversification or globalization, says Vedomosti. Massive investments will be injected into the exploration and exploitation of new deposits. Under the terms of the joint venture between NorNickel and Rio Tinto, the latter shall do exploration work in Siberia and Russia’s Far East.

Two more subsidiaries will work on prospecting in the Murmansk Region, north of Russia, and the Krasnoyarsk Territory, in Siberia. The company has also filed a bid for the funds of the Stabilization Fund, Russia’s sealed oil-based reserves that will be gingerly spent on top priority national projects and other vital ventures. With financial help from the state, NorNickel plans to construct a 350km railroad stretched to the settlement of Lukogan, the Chita Region, where one of its arms is working on a copper deposit.

There are also environmental issues at home the company has to address. NorNickel is the key to the region’s economy but also a source of sulphur dioxide pollution. On May 17, 2006, a group of scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences visited Norilsk and took part in a joint conference focusing on ecological challenges of the region.

Lack of railway communications and geographical location are largely to blame for poor recycling techniques. They still do not allow to re-use the products of recycling – sulphur acid and sulphur – on the spot.

The company upheld the scientists’ bid for new environmentally-friendly techniques and suggested setting up a special committee to search breakthrough solutions.


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