The head of Vale SA’s base metals group is vowing to turn around its poorly performing Canadian nickel operations, as the Brazilian mining giant makes a play for a bigger piece of the fast-growing EV-battery-minerals market.
Vale entered the Canadian nickel market in 2006 when it paid $19.4-billion to acquire Inco Ltd., a company that had mined the critical mineral in Sudbury for a century.
Despite Vale investing tens of billions in its Sudbury operations, output has fallen significantly over the years. Production costs have climbed as the company is forced to mine deeper into the earth, and grades are also on the decline.
The miner has also repeatedly pinned production shortfalls on maintenance issues. Last year was particularly challenging in Sudbury, with production sidelined for two months owing to a strike. Meanwhile, 39 workers were trapped underground for about three days at its Totten mine because of a mechanical issue with the cage that lowers people into the mine.
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