Norilsk restarts Australia nickel mine mothballed during recession

Norilsk Nickel, world number one nickel and palladium producer and Russia’s biggest miner, announced on Friday it is restarting operations at its Maggie Hays mine near Lake Johnston in West Australia.

Norilsk mothballed Maggie Hays bought from BHP and the other Australian operations it acquired in 2007 two years later as the financial crisis cut demand. Stainless steel production accounts for around two-thirds of nickel consumption.

On Thursday Reuters reported nickel prices rebounded from a sharp fall in June, but slow demand and concerns about an impending sharp rise in output will exert downward presure, or at least limit upside prospects in the next month or two from current prices around $24,000 a tonne.

The monthly production capacity of the Maggie Hays mine is 100 kt of ore at 1.3% average grade of nickel. The volume of nickel production is expected to achieve 3.6 kt by the end of 2011, with consequent increase up to 9 kt. At the same time, geological exploration (18 thousand running meters) is to be carried out within existing deposit in the second half of the year.

Norilsk is the largest diversified mining and metals company in Russia, the world’s largest producer of nickel and palladium and one of the world’s largest producers of platinum, rhodium, copper and cobalt. The company also produces a large number of by-products, including gold, silver, tellurium, selenium, iridium and ruthenium.

The key production units in Russia are on the Polar and Kola Peninsulas and it also operates mines in Finland, Australia, Botswana and South Africa.

For the full press release click here.

Map of the Norilsk’s Australian operations is courtesy of the company.

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