The Canadian Sherritt International Corporation wants to continue being the major foreign investor in Cuba. A foreign capital pioneer on the socialist island, the mining company reiterated its intention of taking advantage of each opportunity offered by Cuba’s opening policy, as it has done since the 1990s, although the foreign market’s winds have not favoured it in recent years.
With presence in nickel extraction, oil production and power generation, Sherritt’s businesses in Cuba are the most important for that company, its general director, David Pathe, said in a press conference. Meanwhile, it is the investor from another country most extensively involved with Havana, to the point of causing U.S. government sanctions to its executives due to the economic blockade’s extraterritorial laws.
The Canadian company is confident it will remain in the world operation leadership in the production of finished nickel based on laterites, said Pathe. The joint investments in the Moa mining enclave, in eastern Cuba, allow for the extraction, industrial processing and marketing of more than 33,000 tons of nickel and no less than 3,000 of cobalt a year.
The Sherritt executives have in their favour the moderate recovery of prices on the international market, which last February increased to more than 11,000 dollars per ton after the closing down of a group of mines in the Philippines. This first reaction in 2017 had as antecedent a 14.4 per cent decrease in prices the previous year. The tendency to increase can continue if the World Bank forecasts, usually cautious, come true: they preview a 40.5 per cent growth in nickel prices from 2017 to 2021.
The high productive rates of the joint ownership plant in Moa, the Pedro Soto Alba, compensated for the low prices last year. It has reached an annual production volume of 37,500 tons a year. In 2016, that factory concluded a new sulphuric acid plant on time and in the budget. “We hope to see the economic benefit of this project reflected in the cash costs,” said the firm’s general director.
In addition, Sherritt has become one of the major foreign oil operators in Cuba. The wells managed by that company generate 15,000 barrels a day, approximately a third of the hydrocarbon produced in this country.
Pathe told the press that they are planning to assign capital and financing for Block 10, one of the 45 in which the oil Northern Strip is divided. He said they want to continue the prospecting and drilling in the zone and in the promising Block 8-A, where they are in the phase of acquiring seismic data, as well as maintaining the talks with the Cubapetróleo Conglomerate (CUPET) in search of new opportunities.
As its director ratified several times, Sherritt hopes to expand its participation in Cuba’s oil business and strengthen the strategic relations in that field.
In terms of electricity, that Canadian company has another important presence: the Energas S.A. enterprise, a Sherritt, CUPET and the Electricity Conglomerate joint venture, which generates 506 megawatts, 15 per cent of the electricity in the Cuban network. Since it is produced based on gas extracted from the oil deposits it is one of the power generations with the lowest production cost in the country.
The Canadian company not only seeks to diversify its economic participation in Cuba, but also does it in key areas. (2017)
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