Swedish miner and smelter Boliden will launch a standalone nickel smelting business to buy concentrates externally and sell nickel matte, as it moves away from its existing tolling model, the company said on Monday November 10.

Standalone nickel smelting will bring the nickel segment more in line with the company's strategy in its zinc and copper divisions, and will be put into action in the summer of 2015. Annual production is expected to stay at 25,000 tonnes of nickel in matte.

Boliden has been smelting nickel concentrates for many years at its Harjavalta copper and nickel smelter in Finland, through tolling agreements with external parties.

Under its new business model, Boliden will instead buy concentrates from a variety of mines and sell the nickel matte to refineries.

The change in model comes as the company's existing tolling contract is expiring, and at a time when a reduction in smelter capacities and an increase in new nickel mines will drive up demand for nickel smelting, the company said.

“The timing is good and the change of business model gives us an exciting opportunity to start sourcing concentrates and supplying the growing market,” Kerstin Konradsson, president of Boliden smelters, said.

“As the only nickel smelter in Western Europe, Boliden Harjavalta is strategically positioned, with a short distance to a port and the lowest sulphur dioxide emissions per tonne of nickel of any nickel smelter in the world,” she added.

The announcement follows the appointment of Fredric Bratt as manager for nickel at Boliden smelters in January 2014. He was brought in to reshape the business model for Boliden’s nickel assets.

Chloe Smith 
Twitter: ChloeSmith_MB