Sixty Australian nickel miners let go

Norilsk Nickel is suspending its Lake Johnston mine in Australia and an African mine may be next due to "current nickel market trends".

Sixty Australian workers will be let go at Lake Johnston. The company says they will receive the "legally mandated severance packages."

Nickel prices have dropped 10% this year and analysts are cutting their estimates.

Reuters found company documents showing that Norilsk may also suspend its Tati Nickel mine in Botswana.

Falling nickel prices are hurting the viability of some its mining operations.

"Under current nickel market trends the Company implements a policy of optimizing production site operations ensuring maximum effective utilization of in-house capacities," writes the company.

"Enterprises that are not fully integrated in the Company’s production chain (as Lake Johnston) do not provide sufficient profitability levels."

Early this month the company said profits were down 37%.

Both Lake Johnston and Tati Nickel were obtained from Norilsk Nickel's acquisition of LionOre Mining International in 2007.

Lake Johnston could re-open if nickel recovers or geological investigations in the area are positive.

Since the start of the year LME nickel prices have slid from US$17,400 per tonne to US$15,080 per tonne.