I know, old joke, and it doesn’t work well for an open pit mine. But it’s unfortunately true. Anglo American is now fully out of Venezuela, having sold its coal mine and involuntarily returned its nickel concession.
The Venezuelan state took over operations of the Loma de Níquel mine at midnight Sunday morning, confirming what I reported here a month earlier. The situation was more like my “Imaginary scenario 2,” in which the government has no idea it’s about to be in the nickel business and doesn’t handle the transition very well. Mine manager Carlos Dini, cited in El Universal, says PDVSA is now “operating” the mine, although a worker at the mine says it’s not PDVSA but rather managers left over from Anglo American who are running things. Continue reading →
Image taken without permission from Minera Loma de Niquel website, click for original.
Anglo American has a nickel mine in Venezuela. A month from now, from what I hear, that won’t be the case. The concessions now being mined expire Nov. 11 along with the site environmental permit, according to a person familiar with the situation. The government hasn’t renewed the concessions, so it’s lame duck time for them. The company now has a month to comply with its permit requirements — including returning the site in pristine condition. That won’t happen. The site ain’t in bad shape as mines go, but it has some big gouges in the ground where scoops pick up damp, crumbly, pale-blue ore, dump it on trucks, which dump it into some of the most ridiculously hot furnaces you can imagine (1650°C), where the nickel is smelted out and turned into dark pellets that are cooled in little water pools and then loaded into containers (very shallow, or the container would be too heavy) and trucked to Puerto Cabello and thence to points unknown.
The writing has been on the wall for years, as Anglo American has been writing down the value of its sole remaining Venezuelan asset. Continue reading →