August 21, 2007
RUSSIAN MINING GIANT COMES TO BOTSWANA
Russia's leading mining and metallurgical company Norilsk Nickel has bought Tati Nickel Mine, the company's chief executive Mr Peter Breese has announced.
Speaking at a press briefing at the residence of the Russia's Ambassador to Botswana last Thursday, Mr Breese said the company was committed to making the mine the only one in Africa that produced a finished mineral product by 2009.
Mr Breese said the refinery would use a technology that had been developed prior to its use in Botswana.
He said through Norilsk Nickel, Botswana would receive one of the largest investments ever. The company would have invested P4 billion in the Tati Nickel Mine project.
Mr Breese said that his company expected that when the refinery was complete the Tati Nickel Mine would add about two per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Botswana - and three per cent to economic diversification.
He added that at the moment the company had a mini demonstration refinery plant, which employed 155 people - only two of them expatriates - working and undergoing training at the plant.
He also said 450 skilled workers would be employed after completion of the refinery, saying majority of them would be Batswana graduates from their training division and from mining schools.
Mr Ralph Morgan, Deputy Director General of Norilsk Nickel, said his company believed in the people, government and the infrastructure of Botswana.
"Botswana is an excellent stepping stone in the broad African market so we are proud to start our African business in this country," he said.
Mr Igor Liakin-Frolov, Russia's Ambassador to Botswana, said he was happy that a Russian company was investing in Botswana, as he was confident of Botswana's economic stability.
He said this investment reinforced the good relations between Botswana and Russia.
The relations have hitherto being at political level but the advent of Norilsk Nickel marked the beginning of economic integration.
Meanwhile, a 2005 risk survey rated Botswana as the world's third best place for mining, behind Canada and Australia.