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Belvedere Suspends Operations At Hitura In Face Of Low Nickel Prices

Shares of Belvedere Resources (CVE:BEL) lost ground Thursday after the company announced that it is suspending mining operationgs at its Hitura nickel mine in Finland in response to continued low nickel prices.

Further to its announcement in January, the company told investors today that it has now initiated a two-week notice period for the start of temporary layoffs, of up to 60 of the 69 people employed at the mine.

The layoff period will continue for up to 90 days for each employee. The company added that key staff will stay on to manage the care and maintenance of the mine and mill facilities during the suspension.

"The continuing weakness in the nickel prices, in conjunction with permitting delays, has left the company with little option but to suspend nickel operations and commence temporary lay-offs," said CEO David Pym in a release Thursday.

"During the lay-off period the company will continue to concentrate on the metallurgical, environmental and engineering studies involved with assessing the viability of processing the nearby Kopsa gold copper ores through the Hitura mill."

The Finland-based operator made a net profit of €1.3mln (€2.6mln) over the whole of 2012, but was in the red in the final three months due to poor nickel prices and grades. Full year revenues were €27.9mln, up from €24.7mln while the amount of nickel produced rose to 2,282 tonnes against 2,157 tonnes.

Belvedere was trading at 4.5 cents on Thursday, down 10 per cent.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.