Norilsk Nickel Africa Proprietary Limited (NNAf), the South African unit of Russian miner Nornickel, has agreed to transfer its 50% stake in the Nkomati joint venture (JV) in South Africa to African Rainbow Minerals (ARM).

The JV operates the Nkomati nickel mine, which has been on care and maintenance since 2021.

The definitive deal will see ARM acquire the Nkomati mine’s environmental liabilities, as well as NNAf’s share of the obligations and liabilities associated with the Nkomati mine’s assets.

It awaits competition approvals, with completion due next year. The existing JV partnership between ARM and NNAf will terminate upon the closing of the deal.

In a statement, the Russian mining company said: “With this agreement, Nornickel underscores its strategic commitment to developing its unique resource base and tier-one assets portfolio in Russia as well as its long-term strategy to exit non-tier-one assets.”

The Nkomati mine comprises bi-metal product credits such as platinum, palladium, copper, cobalt and chrome.

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ARM noted: “Nkomati mine is a known and predictable nickel sulphide orebody, with established infrastructure, relatively lower carbon emission footprint, low capital intensity and short lead times to resuming steady state production of class one compatible nickel sulphide concentrate, the preferred feed to nickel sulphate production sought after by battery manufacturers.”

ARM said that the mine’s existing condition remains “challenging”, owing to ongoing expenses tied to care and maintenance, in addition to an uncertain commodities outlook.

Earlier this year, Nornickel sold its exclusive distribution company for nickel, platinum group metals and cobalt in the Americas to TMP Metals Group.

The deal is said to make TMP one of the top suppliers of metals and metal products in Latin America, North America and South America.