May 2, 2017 / 4:29 PM / in a year

Emirati firm eyes mine disputed by Botswana, Norilsk Nickel

GABORONE, May 2 (Reuters) - Botswana hopes to end a lawsuit with Russia’s Norilsk Nickel by helping Emirates Investment House (EIH) buy a disputed 50 percent stake in the Nkomati nickel mine in South Africa, a government minister said on Tuesday.

Botswana’s state-run BCL Mine pulled out of a 3 billion pula ($281 million) deal to buy a 50 percent stake in Nkomati Nickel Mine from Norilsk Nickel Africa last year after falling into severe financial difficulties.

Norilsk Nickel filed a lawsuit against the government of Botswana last week in an effort to recoup $271 million in damages it says it is owed from the aborted sale.

EIH is expected to conclude due diligence on the Nkomati mine by the end of the week, Minerals Minister Sadique Kebonang said. EIH has been conducting a similar process on BCL’s other assets for the past month.

“We are not worried about the lawsuit against government. Our intention is the find a buyer for the BCL,” Kebonang told Reuters. “If a deal can be agreed and the funds are enough, we will pay off Norilsk and the lawsuits can then be withdrawn.” (Writing by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Joe Brock)

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