Norilsk Nickel plans to close the deal on selling a 13.3% stake in Bystrinsky gold and copper project in the coming months to Chinese investors, Norilsk Nickel Executive Director Pavel Fedorov told TASS Tuesday.
“Today, Norilsk Nickel and a consortium of Chinese investors completed a deal to acquire a 13.3% stake in the Bystrinsky project, which belongs to Norilsk Nickel. This is one of the largest new projects in the mining industry in Russia, which is expected to be commissioned in 2017. The total investment in the project will be about $1.7 billion. Mining will produce 60,000 – 70,000 tonnes of copper per year. The project is located in 300 km from the Russian-Chinese border. China will become the target market for the project’s production. We already have offers from Chinese steel companies for buying project’s products production,” Fedorov said.
According to him, $100 million is the initial investment of Chinese investors in the capital of the project. In addition, the two sides still awaiting approval of the deal by the Committee on Foreign Investment. “A consortium of Chinese investors will work with us to develop this project. $100 mln is the initial investment in the project’s capital. Today we signed a package of binding agreements. We expect to close the deal in the coming months, after, and if authorized by the government commission on foreign investment. This is a key suspensive condition for the completion of this transaction,” Fedorov said.
He added that Norilsk Nickel expects to broaden cooperation with Chinese investors. “It is important for us that the first deal is successful for both sides. After that, with the necessary support, we will look at the scale of this collaboration in order to open up new possibilities and forms of interaction with the Asian markets,” he said.
Moreover, Russian mining and metals company Norilsk Nickel will soon announce other deals with Chinese contractors, in particular in the field of financing.
“In the near future we will announce other transactions, in particular in the field of financing, which will be signed with Chinese partners. These are important interrelated events. The deal on the Bystrinskiy ore mining and dressing plant is part of a comprehensive program on working with the Chinese market, we see serious strategic prospects there,” Fedorov said.
“We’re talking about significant funds,” Fedorov added, answering the question about the amount of funds the company plans to attract from Chinese banks. He did not specify the amount.
According to the initial plan, Bystrinsky mine was supposed to be launched in 2017, and reach its full capacity by 2019 – 65,800 tonnes of copper per year. This would allow Norilsk Nickel to diversify its revenues – currently 43% of the company’s revenues account for nickel, 23% – for copper.
Norilsk Nickel earlier offered shareholders to invest in Bystrinsky project. The company intends to retain a controlling stake and manage the project.
In 2014 Norilsk Nickel began to actively seek co-investors for the project. The company asked VEB for funding and received $874 mln in the summer of 2014. In May Norilsk Nickel and VTB agreed on a $1 bln loan, as well as on an option to sell a 25% stake in the company, but the deal has not yet been made.
Bystrinsky project reserves are estimated at 2.1 million tonnes of copper, 7.6 million ounces of gold, 34.1 million ounces of silver and 67 million tonnes of magnetite.