BRUSSELS, April 1 (Reuters) - Nyrstar, the world's largest zinc smelting company, said on Tuesday it had agreed a loan deal with struggling Finnish miner Talvivaara in return for zinc ore.
Nyrstar said in a statement it would provide a loan of up to 20 million euros ($27.6 million) in several tranches, each advance linked to a delivery of zinc in concentrate from Talvivaara.
The new deal is structured to ensure Nyrstar continues to receive zinc while not increasing its net financial exposure to Talvivaara, Nyrstar said
Hurt by falling nickel prices and repeated production disruptions, Talvivaara sought a court-led reorganisation in November as it ran low on funds. It won court approval in December to renegotiate its debt, allowing it to continue mining and avoid the immediate risk of bankruptcy.
Nyrstar, Talvivaara's top creditor after paying 232 million euros in advance for zinc deliveries, said it continued to work with the Finnish firm along with others to find a potential investor or investors to help cover its funding gap.
If Talvivaara found a solution, Nyrstar said it would offer Talvivaara a "streaming holiday" -- exempting it for a time from delivering up to 80,000 tonnes from its initial supply agreement.
In the event of such a streaming holiday, Nyrstar would still purchase zinc ore from Talvivaara. It would also end the loan financing.
Nyrstar agreed in 2010 to acquire 1.25 million tonnes of zinc in concentrate from Talvivaara for a price of $335 million, with possible supplementary payments if the zinc price rose.
Nyrstar also said it would immediately be receiving about 10,000 tonnes of zinc in concentrate under its initial zinc streaming agreement. ($1 = 0.7256 Euros) (Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek)