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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Norilsk to Invest Big In Africa

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Norilsk Nickel will spend over 4.4 billion rands ($588.6 million) on two projects in Botswana and South Africa, it said Friday.

Norilsk will develop the Tati nickel mine in Botswana and the Nkomati nickel mine in South Africa, which it acquired after buying LionOre, Tav Morgan, Norilsk deputy director, told a news conference in Johannesburg.

Morgan said these projects, along with last week's acquisition of over 97.7 percent of LionOre Mining International, strengthens Norilsk's portfolio of assets in attractive mining regions.

"It consolidates our position in Australia, while gaining exposure in Southern Africa," Morgan said.

Norilsk said Tuesday that it had acquired over 97.7 percent of the shares in Canada's LionOre for 6.8 billion Canadian dollars ($6.4 billion), paving the way for a mandatory purchase of the remaining shares.

Peter Breese, LionOre chief operating officer, said the Tati mine would be Norilsk's flagship project in Southern Africa.

Breese said Norilsk has earmarked $482 million of capital to build the world's first Activox refinery.

Activox, a technology developed by LionOre, cuts capital and operating costs by combining smelting and refining into one process, using water-leaching to extract the metal instead of heat as in conventional refineries.

The process also has higher recovery rates than conventional smelters, allowing the mining of low-grade ore bodies.

Breese said this would enable Norilsk to increase the Tati reserves, and also increase annual nickel production by 97 percent.