Botswana Pulls Out of $279 Million Norilsk Nickel-Mine Deal

  • African country can no longer afford agreed purchase price
  • Botswana seeking to replenish reserves after mine closure

Botswana withdrew its decision to buy a 50 percent stake in South Africa’s Nkomati mine from GMK Norilsk Nickel PJSC because it can’t afford the price tag of just under 3 billion pula ($279 million).

“The kind of situation we are in, where’s that money going to come from,” Khaulani Fichani, chairman of state-owned BCL Ltd., told reporters in Gaborone, Botswana’s capital. BCL is now being managed by a liquidator.

In 2014, BCL agreed to buy 50 percent of the Nkomati nickel mine and 85 percent of Tati Nickel Mining Co., located in Botswana, from Nornickel, which is among the world’s biggest producers of the metal, for $337 million. The company said in April it would raise $250 million in a bond sale to help fund the purchases.

Nornickel has “decided to defend its interests under the transaction in courts with jurisdiction over the matter,” it said in a statement Monday.

Botswana shut BCL’s unprofitable copper and nickel mine, the country’s oldest, this month and began steps to liquidate it because it couldn’t afford to keep the company running, Mineral Resources Minister Sadique Kebonang said Saturday. The acquisitions were a way for the country to continue processing metals from other operations given its own shafts were close to the end of their lives.

African Rainbow Minerals Ltd., whose chairman is South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe, owns the other 50 percent of Nkomati.

— With assistance by Mbongeni Mguni, Kevin Crowley, and Yuliya Fedorinova

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