‘There’s still lots of ore in Cuba. We fully expect to be in the nickel business in Cuba for many years to come’
After years of paying down debt and restructuring its operations, a new question mark hangs over Toronto-based Sherritt International Corp: whether the leadership change in Cuba will affect its extensive nickel, cobalt and energy operations located within the tropical island nation.
Sherritt refers to itself as Cuba’s largest foreign investor, and derives most of its revenues from operations there.
Now, as Cuba heads into its first full month in a half-century without a Castro in the presidency — having elected Miguel Diaz-Canel on April 19 — Sherritt has much to lose or gain from any changes in policy or economic reform. Publicly, chief executive David Pathe, who visits Cuba at least a half dozen times every year, is playing down the significance of the transition.
“Our experience has been that the political noise around Cuba, obviously because of its political relationship with the U.S., paints a darker picture than reality,” Pathe told the Financial Post. ”We’ve found it a pretty stable place to do business.”
He said he met Diaz-Canel once at a dinner in Cuba when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited, but it was several years ago. By all accounts, Raul Castro hand-picked Diaz-Canel as his successor, and is expected to continue the economic reforms that are slowly opening his country’s small private sector.