TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Diversified miner Anglo American has temporarily stopped production at the Loma mine, in Venezuela, the firm said on Tuesday.
Operations were halted because of high slag transport costs, Anglo said in a presentation on its website.
Loma de Niquel is an openpit nickel laterite mine and smelter, and produced 16 000 t of nickel in 2007.
The operation has a mine life of more than 25 years, but the political environment “remains challenging”, Anglo said.
Anglo American owns 91% of the mine.
The global nickel industry has seen a series of shutdowns and cutbacks over the last six months, as low prices and a dim outlook force miners to curtail operations.
Nickel traded above $22/lb in 2007 but has since fallen sharply, with prices currently around $5/lb, as slowing global economic activity dampens demand for the metal, which is used to make stainless steel.
Anglo also indicated on Tuesday that it was in the market for acquisitions, as many companies and operations struggle to turn a profit and several projects are being delayed because of difficulties in raising finance and persisting low metals prices.
However, the group emphasised that it would take a "disciplined" approach to any merger and acquisition (M&A) activity.
The company will look for acquisition opportunities that are in, or with potential to move to, the lower half of the cost curve, and potential targets must have "significant" scale and long life, the group said.
"The current market may offer opportunities to acquire capacity for less than it would cost to build, but a continued disciplined approach to M&A is required."