Vale searches for partner to invest in world’s largest nickel mine – by Neil Hume and Henry Sanderson (Financial Times – October 17, 2017)

Sale of stake in New Caledonian unit part of push to tackle underperforming assets

LONDON: Vale is searching for a partner to invest in one of the world’s biggest nickel mines as part of a push by its new chief executive Fabio Schvartsman to reduce debt and get to grips with underperforming assets.

The Brazilian miner is working with Scotiabank to sell a stake in Vale New Caledonia (VNC) on the remote South Pacific island of New Caledonia, according to people familiar with the process.

It has held discussions with a number of Chinese groups including Gem Co, a Shenzhen-based company that recycles and refines nickel cobalt for use in batteries, the people said.

The miner is betting the battery revolution, driven by the transition to electric vehicles and energy storage systems, will help it find a strategic investor for one of its most challenging assets.

Vale declined to comment but pointed to a recent investor presentation in which Mr Schvartsman outlined a new approach to the nickel market, including a “partnership” for its operations on New Caledonia, a French territory. Scotiabank and Gem Co could not be immediately reached for comment.

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