PRISTINA (Serbia and Montenegro), November 2 (SeeNews) - The Kosovo Trust Agency (KTA), charged with the sale of hundreds of state-owned companies in the U.N.-run Serbian province, decided to to sell the ferro-nickel plant Ferronikeli to UK-based Alferon, an official said on Wednesday.
"KTA's board of directors decided to authorise its management to sign the final contract with Alferon," a KTA official, who declined to be named, told SeeNews.
KTA revised in July its choice of buyer picking the second-highest bid of 33 million euro ($39.99 million), made by Alferon, "because the highest bidder [the Albanian-based Adi Nikel] doesn't have a valid consortium anymore," KTA spokeswoman Renate Schmidt said earlier in July.
Ferronikeli workers have protested the sale since early July, when the first-ranked bidder was disqualified. They allege the decision to pursue Alferon was politically motivated.
According to KTA's requirements, the buyer is to invest at least 20 million euro in the plant over the first three years after the purchase and to employ 1,000 at the end of the first year.
Ferronikeli ore mining and metallurgical complex was set up in 1984 to produce ferro-nickel for exports. It produced and exported 6,800 tonnes a year of nickel, in ferro-nickel ingots, before the 1990s but since 1998 it has been idle.
Ferronikeli has three open pit mines: the Dushkaja mine with estimated reserves of 6.2 million tones; the Suka mine - 0.8 million tonnes and the Gllavica with 6.8 million tones.
All the mines in the complex were covered early this year with exploration and exploitation licence by the Ministry of Energy and Mining of Kosovo.