It is official. Canada’s second nickel producer, FALCONBRIDGE, is now a subsidiary of Swiss-based XSTRATA. Control has passed to the new parent company, the successful bidder in a war that cost it approximately $19.2 billion. Xstrata assumed full management control of Falconbridge on Aug. 21, 2006. Xstrata’s enlarged network of operations, it boasts, now covers 18 countries.
To mark its accomplishment, Xstrata made several senior management changes that affect former Falconbridge executives. Ian Pearce is now the chief executive of XSTRATA NICKEL, based in Toronto. He will head all of Xstrata’s nickel operations and projects worldwide. Bill Brooks becomes chief executive of XSTRATA ALUMINUM, and will run Noranda Aluminum from Franklin, Tennessee. Robert Sippel is now COO of XSTRATA ZINC CANADA. Derek Pannell vacated his office and title of CEO on Friday, Aug. 18. Former president Aaron Regent has left the company, and Joe Laezza, former president of nickel operations, is retiring.
The former copper and zinc assets of Falconbridge have been integrated with their respective divisions at Xstrata. The new parent company plans to establish regional offices for these copper and zinc operations in Toronto.
Truly this marks a sea change in the way Canadians view their mining industry. Foreign control means loss of local control. The mines and mills of Falconbridge will continue to operate (as long as they are profitable), but the corporate culture will change. These changes will be felt most intensely at the executive level and much less so by the crusher operator at the bottom of a mine. I, for one, sincerely regret that control of one Canadian icon has passed into foreign hands.
Another means of marking how the mining world has changed is to plug “www.Falconbridge.com” into your Internet browser. You will immediately be directed to the Xstrata website with links to archived Falconbridge sites including Noranda Recycling, Income Fund and Aluminum, and Antamina, Collahuasi, Norfalco and Norsmelt.
The list reminds me of trophy heads hung on a wall, but it’s Xstrata’s $19.2 billion and the company is obviously very proud to have bagged Falconbridge.