The latest issue of the Western Australian Department of Industry and Resources Prospect magazine has reported a rise in Russian investment in Western Australia.
According to the report, Russian nickel company Norilsk Nickel has purchased US$408 million worth of nickel interests from US specialty base metal producer OM Group.
The deal makes Norilsk a substantial nickel producer in Western Australia through its acquisition of Cawse laterite nickel mine, about 45 km northwest of Kalgoorlie, and the OM Groups 20% share in the Black Swan and Silver Swan nickel mines about 53 km northeast of Kalgoorlie.
In 2006, the Cawse operation produced about 6000 tonnes of nickel and 425 tonnes of cobalt, while Black Swan and Silver Swan produced 7200 tonnes of nickel and 150 tonnes of cobalt for the year.
Through its acquisition of OM Group, Norilsk has also gained 20% interest in the Honeymoon Well nickel deposit 40 km north of the BHP Billiton Mt Keith operation.
Honeymoon Well is one of the world’s largest undeveloped nickel deposits, with the potential to produce more than 40,000 tonnes per annum of nickel concentrate.
The project is currently the subject of a feasibility study.
Norilsk Nickel has recently purchased more than 97% of Lion Ore under its cash offer to shareholders, and has commenced compulsory acquisition of the remaining company stock.
Lion Ore’s nickel assets include mining and smelting operations at Emily Ann, Maggie Hays, Waterloo and Black Swan.
Norilsk Nickel group is the largest mining and metals company in Russia, and is said to be the world’s largest producer of nickel and palladium.
The company is headquartered in Moscow, with sales and distribution activities managed through its Moscow headquarters.
The Chamber of Minerals and Energy recently hosted a visit to Kalgoorlie-Boulder by the Russian Ambassador.
The Ambassador toured Cawse, KCGM Superpit, and BHP the Billiton Nickel West Kalgoorlie Nickel Smelter.
The Ambassador’s visit to Kalgoorlie-Boulder highlights the importance of the Goldfields-Esperance region to the Russian mining industry.