Russian mining company Nornickel, through its subsidiary Norilsk Nickel Africa (NNAf), has agreed to transfer its stake in the Nkomati Joint Venture to its partner African Rainbow Minerals (ARM).

NNAf will transfer its 50% interest in the JV, which operates the Nkomati mine in South Africa to ARM for $18m, reported Reuters.

ARM will assume the environmental liabilities of the Nkomati mine, along with NNAf’s proportionate share of the obligations and liabilities related to the assets of the Nkomati mine.

The assets of Nkomati JV include a disseminated copper-nickel ore deposit, an underground mine, and an open pit mine.

The mining and production operations at the property were halted in March 2021 and the mine was placed under limited care and maintenance since then.

The proposed transaction is expected to be completed during 2024, subject to approvals from necessary regulatory and competition authorities in South Africa.

It is also subject to certain other conditions precedent as agreed between NNAf and ARM.

Nornickel, in its statement, said: “With the agreement, Nornickel underscores its strategic commitment to developing its unique resource base and Tier-1 assets portfolio in Russia as well as its long-term strategy to exit non-Tier-1 assets.”

Located in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa, Nkomati is South Africa’s only producer of nickel concentrate, which also contains copper, cobalt, PGMs, and chrome concentrate.

The Nkomati deposit contains several ore bodies and has a substantial resource base represented by disseminated copper-nickel sulphide ores.

In 2020, Nkomati produced a total of 2.7 million tonnes of ore, comprising 6,000t of nickel, 3000t of copper, 30,000oz of palladium and 13,000oz of platinum.

Last year, Nornickel signed a cooperation agreement with Rosatom to develop a lithium deposit in the northwestern Murmansk region of Russia.

The two Russian companies would jointly develop projects, including the lithium deposit of Kolmozerskoye and further processing of lithium raw materials.