World number one nickel and palladium producer MMC Norilsk Nickel (Norilsk) has announced that the new CEO of Norilsk Nickel Africa is Michael Marriott, who was previously the deputy director of Norilsk’s overseas production assets department.
He is already a member of the executive committee of Nkomati Nickel, the South African mine that is a 50:50 joint venture (JV) between Norilsk and South Africa’s African Rainbow Minerals. He is also on the board of Botswana mining company BCL, in which Norilsk holds a 6% share (the remaining 94% belonging to the Botswana government).
Norilsk Nickel Africa embraces the group’s interests in Nkomati and BCL and its 85%-owned subsidiary, Tati Nickel. (The remaining 15% is held by the Botswana government.)
Marriott has 31 years’ experience in the metals and mining sector, having worked for Anglo American, Cluff, Midwest Vanadium and Highland African Mining. He is a graduate of the University of the Witwatersrand Business School and of the professional development programmes of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. His focus was on mining. In its press release announcing his appointment, Norilsk stated that “Mr Marriott is tasked with optimising operational, production and management expenses”.
His predecessor, South African Wayne Venter, has been appointed CEO of Norilsk Nickel Australia. (Venter is a graduate of the former Technikon Witwatersrand – now part of the University of Johannesburg – where he majored in extraction metallurgy; thereafter, he worked for Anglo American Platinum for 18 years before joining what is now Norilsk Nickel Africa.)
The previous CEO of Norilsk Nickel Australia, Edwin van Leeuwen, has been transferred to the Norilsk head office in Moscow.
Venter’s new appointment “comes in conjunction with Norilsk Nickel Australia’s efforts to pull resources into developing [the] Honeymoon Well (Western Australia) sulphide ore deposits, while the Lake Johnson (also Western Australia) asset is being suspended”, said the group. Honeymoon Well is one of the largest sulphide nickel ore deposits in the world. The company is also upgrading its hydrometallurgy complex at Cawse (which is some 50 km from Kalgoorlie, in Western Australia).
Norilsk announced on April 24 that Lake Johnson was to be suspended, because it was not fully integrated into the group’s production chain and so did “not provide sufficient profitability levels”. If market conditions improve and geo- logical research proves favour- able, Lake Johnson could be restarted.
Previously, Norilsk released its preliminary consolidated production results for the first quarter of this year. Tati Nickel’s production of nickel in concentrate was 2 191 t, a 17% decrease on the first quarter of 2012 figure of 2 632 t. “The decrease of nickel production is explained by [a] reduction of metal content in the processed ore,” stated the group in its report.
Norilsk’s 50% share of Nkomati’s production, shipped in concentrate to the group’s smelter at Harjavalta, in Finland, was 2 651 t. This was 52% higher than during last year’s first quarter (1 744 t). “High production indicators were achieved by the stable work[ing] of plants and the growth of nickel recovery by 11%.”
Both Tati and Nkomati produce copper, palladium and platinum as by-products. At Tati, copper in concentrate production was 1 777 t, down 29% from the 2 520 t of the equivalent period last year. Norilsk’s share of Nkomati’s copper output (again, shipped to Harjavalta) was 1 138 t, up from 991 t during the first three months of last year.
Regarding palladium, Tati’s first-quarter-on-first-quarter production was down 28%, from 19 000 troy ounces in 2012 to 14 000 troy ounces this year. Again, Nkomati saw a rise, with Norilsk’s share going from 7 000 troy ounces to 9 000 troy ounces.
With regard to platinum, Tati again saw a decline, with a January to March 2013 output of 2 000 troy ounces, com- pared to the 3 000 troy ounces of the same period in 2012. Nkomati’s production was flat, with Norilsk’s share in each of the two quarters under compari- son being 3 000 troy ounces. Both the palladium and plati- num production was supplied, in concentrate form, to third parties.
The Norilsk group’s total nickel output for 2013’s first quarter was 71 573 t (a decline of 6% on the 2012 first quarter), while the figure for copper was 91 011 t (a rise of 3%), for palladium 588 000 troy ounces (down 9%) and for platinum 140 000 troy ounces (a drop of 15%).