Construction on this project started earlier this year.
Major project shareholder Sherritt International and contractor and shareholder SNC-Lavalin Group have reported that financing arrangements for the mammoth project were completed in August.
Speaking in Toronto, Canada, at a meeting of executives of companies with mining and infrastructural investment projects in Africa, SNC-Lavalin senior vice-president and Ambatovy project director Albert Sweetnam said the project's budgeted cost was $3,225 billion, making it the biggest investment ever in Madagascar.
"Commitments of $1,25-billion are in place and a further $1,3-billion of commitments are to be provided in the next six months," said Sweetnam, adding that "Ambatovy has the largest ever debt financing in the mining sector, at a ratio of 53% debt to 47% equity".
SNC-Lavalin of Canada, which has a 5% stake in the project, is responsible for engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning of the ore plant, the 220-km slurry pipeline and the nickel/cobalt refinery, as well as for the expansion of the port at Tomasina.
Sherritt International, which, like SNC-Lavalin, is a Canadian company, has a 40% interest. The other shareholders are Sumitomo Corporation, of Japan, and Korea Resources, of South Korea, with a 27,5% stake each.
Ambatovy's annual design capacity is 60 000 t of London Metal Exchange class 1 nickel, 5 600 t of cobalt and 190 000 t of ammonium sulphate.
Ambatovy's reserves of high-grade ore are estimated at 125-million tons at 1,04% nickel and 0,10% copper, enough to sustain an estimated operating life of 27 years. There is a further 39,4-million tons of lower-grade ore, grading at 0,69% nickel and 0,064% copper.
Apart from the obvious benefits that will accrue to the investors, the project will offer Madagascar a host of social-development benefits, including job opportunities.
Construction alone is expected to create more than 7 700 jobs at its peak, while the permanent mine and plant labourforce is expected to be 400 strong and 1 200 strong respectively. Locals are expected to constitute between 85% and 95% of the total employment complement.
The project will create more jobs through subcontracts in various areas, such as camp development, communications, water and sanitation provision and health facilities.