Sherritt tables production update, cuts Canadian staff by 10%

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Sherritt International Inc. [S-TSX] said it has reduced its Canadian staff by 10% and appointed Elvin Saruk as Chief Operating Officer. In that role, he is responsible for leading the company’s metals, power and oil and gas divisions.

The company has also released an update on its fourth quarter and full-year 2023 production results and its expansion program at the Moa joint venture in Cuba.

Toronto-based Sherritt is a world leader in the mining and refining of nickel and cobalt from lateritic ores. The company ranks as the largest independent energy producer in Cuba, with extensive oil and power operations across the island. Its key asset is a nickel mining joint venture with the Cuban government.

The 50/50 partnership, formed in 1994, involves the extraction and processing of nickel and cobalt from an open pit mine at Moa Bay in eastern Cuba.

The laterite nickel ore is processed on site, producing mixed sulphides (containing nickel and cobalt) that are shipped in bags to Halifax, N.S., and then transported by rail to a refinery in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta.

Full-year 2023 finished nickel and finished cobalt production was slightly below their respective guidance ranges, coming in at 28,672 tonnes and 2,876 tonnes respectively.

The Moa Joint venture has embarked on an expansion program focused on increasing annual mixed sulphide precipitate production by 20% or 6,500 tonnes of contained nickel and cobalt (100% basis).

In line with Sherritt’s continuing commitment to cost optimization, the need to improve operations and in response to market conditions, a number of organization-wide cost-cutting initiatives and changes to its executive management team have been completed, the company said in a press release.

These have resulted in a more cost-efficient and adaptable organization anchored in delivering value through its core businesses while retaining expertise and capabilities to pursue further growth opportunities spurred by the energy transition.

As a result of the changes made, the work force across the company’s Canadian operations is being reduced by approximately 10% with annual employee cost savings of $13 million expected to be realized.

The company said Saruk has more than 30 years of experience with Sherritt, including at senior-executive level managing large-scale operations, overseeing complex high-pressure acid leach (HPAL) mining and processing projects and strengthening partner relations while overseeing operations in cuba.

Prior to his appointment, Saruk was senior vice-president, oil and gas and power, and head of growth projects, most recently responsible for leading the Moa joint venture’s expansion program and growing production at the company’s power division during 2023. Along with this change, Dan Rusnell, senior vice-president, metals, has left the organization.

“Our comprehensive, organization-wide restructuring and cost-cutting program is the outcome of a robust internal assessment, and a necessary endeavour to improve metals operations following a disappointing 2023 and reduce non-essential expenditures in the currently depressed metal price environment, which Sherritt has extensive experience navigating,” said Leon Binedell, President and CEO of Sherritt. The statement came after the close of trading on January 15, 2024, when Sherritt shares closed at 30 cents. The shares trade in a 52-week range of 65 cents and 28 cents.

Sherritt said it will release its fourth quarter and year-end financial results on February 7, 2024.

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