Top Nickel Miner Vale Turns Page on 14-Year New Caledonia Foray – by James Attwood (Bloomberg News – March 31, 2021)

(Bloomberg) — Vale SA, the biggest producer of mined nickel, closed a deal to divest its underperforming New Caledonian mine to a group that includes the operation’s managers and workers.

The divestment will allow operations to continue and gives Vale the right to a portion of output amid growing demand for the battery metal, Rio de Janeiro-based Vale said in a statement Wednesday.

Tesla Inc. will support the operation through a “technical and industrial partnership” with the consortium, called Prony Resources.

Vale had intended to mothball the facility if the deal fell through after a string of financial and operational setbacks. Vale picked up the Goro project as part of its 2007 acquisition of Inco.

It was brought online late and over-budget in 2010 and never reached more than 70% of capacity, showing the difficulties producing nickel from laterite deposits using the high pressure acid leach process. Vale will focus on base metal assets in Brazil, Canada and Indonesia.

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