January 19, 2011 / 8:13 AM / in 9 years

UPDATE 1-European Nickel top two execs quit; Caldag ops doubtful

* Says Caldag forestry permit still pending

* Chairman Whitehead to step down after next AGM

* Simon Purkiss resigns as deputy exec chairman

* MD Robert Gregory to assume Purkiss’ exec functions (Adds details)

Jan 19 (Reuters) - European Nickel ENK.L said its chairman and deputy chairman will step down, a month after the UK-based miner suspended work at its flagship Caldag mine in Turkey.

Executive Deputy Chairman Simon Purkiss, one of the founders of European Nickel, resigned effective Jan. 31, while Chairman David Whitehead will step down after the company’s annual general meeting in August.

The company said its Managing Director Robert Gregory will assume Purkiss’ executive functions.

In December, European Nickel said it had suspended work on its Caldag project in Turkey as it awaits a forestry permit and that a supply agreement with BHP Billiton (BHP.AX) BLT.L had been terminated. [ID:nLDE6B9099]

The company said the re-issuance of the forestry permit was still pending, despite continuous discussions with the Turkish government.

“The company has now formally applied for a refund for the previously paid forestry permit fee (about $3.5 million) which must be returned within 60 days as no trees have yet been cut,” it said in a statement.

European Nickel shares, which have shed nearly 40 percent over the past three months, were down 3.3 percent at 22 pence at 0805 GMT on Wednesday on the London Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Anirban Sen in Bangalore; Editing by Roshni Menon)

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