OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel (GMKN), Russia’s biggest mining company, reported a 16 percent drop in fourth- quarter nickel production and said output of copper, platinum and palladium also fell.
Production of nickel was 63,405 metric tons, the Moscow-based company said today in an e-mailed statement. That compares with 75,457 tons a year earlier. Copper production slid 9.5 percent to 99,402 tons, while output of platinum and palladium fell 16 percent to 152,000 ounces and 641,000 ounces, respectively.
Full-year nickel production advanced 8.6 percent to 299,700 tons, said Norilsk, the largest producer of the metal. Copper output gained 1 percent to 419,000 tons. Palladium production dropped 9.4 percent to 2.82 million ounces, while platinum declined 11 percent to 659,000 ounces.
“The decrease of PGM production in 2008 was due to scheduled maintenance and repair works at Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant and deliveries of nickel concentrate to Harjavalta refinery in Finland for test runs,” the company said. Norilsk also shut a nickel smelter in Botswana for eight days in December after a furnace breakdown and suspended three nickel operations in Australia in October because of high costs.
Sales will fall to $8 billion this year as demand for metals drops because of the global economic slump, Chief Executive Officer Vladimir Strzhalkovsky said Jan. 19. Norilsk reported sales of $8.3 billion for the first half of 2008 and $17.1 billion for the whole of 2007.
Norilsk rose as much as 14 percent, the most since Nov. 14 in intraday terms, on the Micex stock exchange in Moscow. The shares were up 189 rubles, or 14 percent, at 1,545 rubles at 4:40 p.m. local time.
Separately, Vedomosti reported today that billionaire Vladimir Potanin, Norilsk’s largest shareholder, nominated two deputy chairmen of state-run bank VTB Group to the miner’s board. Potanin has pledged a 16.8 percent stake in the company as collateral for a $3.2 billion loan from VTB, the newspaper said.
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