Sherritt’s nickel-price boost capped by debt, ‘confusing’ U.S. signals on Cuba – by Sunny Freeman (Financial Post – February 7, 2017)

David Pathe knows what it’s like to be banned from the United States. The chief executive of Toronto-based Sherritt International Corp. received a letter from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security three years ago saying he was no longer welcome in the U.S. because of the miner’s business dealings in Cuba.

“There’s frankly a certain random element to it,” said Pathe, who has been with the company for 10 years and CEO for five.“I tell people that and they’re flabbergasted — a lot of Americans I tell this to can’t believe it.”

Sherritt is a joint owner, along with the Cuban government, of the Moa nickel and cobalt mining, processing and refining operations, and also produces about two-thirds of Cuban oil. The company has been operating under the status quo — including crippling U.S. economic embargo.

Pathe, who heads up the largest foreign company in Cuba, isn’t holding his breath for a change in policy toward the isolated communist island under the new U.S. president any time soon. Nor is he planning any visits with old friends in New York City.

The Trump administration announced Friday a “full review” of U.S. policy toward Cuba, leaving many scratching their heads about potential sanctions or renewed travel bans.

Like the anxious Cuban people, Pathe dreams of a more normalized state of affairs between Cuba and the U.S — which could see the company be able to export oil and metal to the U.S. and also realize cost-savings from importing American made machinery into Cuba, as it does to its Ambatovy mine in Madagascar.

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