SPECULATION is growing over the further delay of WMC’s sale of its last major Kambalda nickel mine – the underground Lanfranchi project.
It is understood that, if the removal of the Lanfranchi sub-lease from a WA State agreement does not go before parliament soon, a six-week winter parliamentary recess at the beginning of July will seriously hamper the sale before the end of June quarter.
Several miners, including Sallay Malay Mining, have been connected with the sale, however the final number is understood to have been whittled down to three local emerging or current nickel producers.
In its latest quarterly report, WMC said that it expects to gain regulatory approval for the sub-lease during the June quarter.
A WMC spokesman reiterated his company’s deadline and added: “Any commercial sub-lease agreement entered into with a prospective purchaser will be conditional on gaining WA State Government approval”.
But sources say the sale is being delayed because of slowed negotiations between the State Government and WMC in relation to WMC pulling out of the Kambalda region.
WMC built and planned the township of Kambalda in the 1960s and ’70s, although control was later transferred to local government.
Although WMC has sold a number of houses it is understood to control some infrastructure, which is said to have deteriorated.
WMC has been trying to sell the Lanfranchi sub-lease since it ceased mining there early last year, however, because Lanfranchi operates as part of a State Agreement Act – Nickel Refinery (Western Mining Corporation) Agreement Act – the sub lease must first be removed from the act.
The sale of the mine, estimated to be worth between $12 million and $20 million, will complete WMC’s pull out of nickel mining region, which started in 2000.
A large Canadian miner said to be a bidder for the project is understood to no longer be in the running.
A Department of Industry and Resources spokesman said at this stage it was too early to speculate on any discussions that may be occurring.
Sally Malay managing director Peter Harold confirmed his company was still pursuing the Lanfranchi project.
Mr Harold said he had not been made aware of a possible delay but understood negotiations would be finalised by mid-May.
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