Press Releases


Doug Lister
Phone: (202) 458-1285
Fax: (202) 974-4323
E-mail: Minorco
Contacts: Carina Corbett, Public Affairs Mgr.
Nick von Schirding, Investor Relations Mgr.
Phone: (44-171) 404-2060

WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 29—The International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Minera Loma de Niquel, C.A. (MLdN) yesterday signed agreements under which IFC will become a shareholder in MLdN and furnish a project finance package of US$115 million of the total estimated US$450 million development cost of MLdN’s nickel deposit 80 km southwest of Caracas, Venezuela. MLdN will mine and smelt lateritic nickel ore to produce an annual average 16,000 metric tons of nickel, principally for export, over the estimated 27-year life of the deposit.

Construction of the mine, smelter, and associated infrastructure, should be completed by early 2000. The project will be supported by long-term contracts for electricity and natural gas supply, and for ferro-nickel offtake. Low-cost energy and large, high quality reserves will contribute to the mine’s efficiency.

Upon completion of financing, MLdN will be owned indirectly 81.5 percent by Minorco S.A. of Luxembourg. Venezuela’s Corporación Caracas and Canada’s Jordex Resources each hold 7.5 percent. IFC will invest US$74.5 million of its own funds: US$65 million in loan (IFC A-Loan), and will acquire 3.5 percent of MLdN’s equity. A further US$50 million will be funded by banks participating in an IFC-syndicated B-Loan, jointly arranged by IFC and Dresdner Bank Luxembourg S.A (Dresdner Bank), which also underwrote the syndication. Participants in the IFC B-Loan are Dresdner Bank, Credit Lyonnais S.A., Bayerische Vereinsbank AG (New York Branch), Middenbank Curacão (a subsidiary of ING Bank N.V.), and Royal Bank of Scotland.

Additional debt financing of US$100 million will be supplied by Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), with maturities equivalent to IFC’s loans. KfW’s funding consists of a US$60 million import loan financing long-term ferro-nickel supply contracts with German customers, and a US$40 million export loan financing the purchase of German supplies and services by MLdN.

"This will be the first major base metal greenfield mining investment by the private sector in Venezuela in many years," explained Philippe Liétard, Director of IFC’s Oil, Gas, and Mining Department. "We believe it will help lead to further investments by the international mining community to assist in the development of Venezuela’s considerable mineral potential."

The IFC financing is tailored to projected MLdN cash flows. The IFC A- and B- loans have maturities of 13 and 10 years, respectively, reflecting the long deposit life. The repayment schedule is flexibly structured to accommodate lower amortization payments, under certain circumstances, in years of lower average nickel prices, a valuable feature considering the historical volatility of nickel prices.

MLdN will be operated in an environmentally sound manner. The mine is designed to be a zero discharge facility. Waste drainage will be recollected for use as process water, emissions will be tightly controlled, and all particulates will be collected and pelletized for reprocessing as ore material.

MLdN is the third mining investment IFC has made in partnership with Minorco. Minorco and IFC are also shareholders in Codemin, a Brazilian ferro-nickel producer, and in Quellaveco, a Peruvian feasibility-stage copper project.

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest multilateral source of equity and loan financing for private sector projects in the developing world. IFC has committed over US$1.2 billion to 37 investments in Venezuelan private industry since its first investment in the country in 1960.