Vale announce investment plans for Canadian nickel production

November 30, 2010

Vale has announced plans for a five year investment program in excess of $10 billion to strengthen and expand its Canadian operations.

“The investment program we’re pursuing is an indicator of the bright future we see for Vale in Canada,” said Tito Martins, Chief Executive Officer of Vale Canada and Executive Director, Base Metals for Vale. “These investments represent an important building block for the future of our Canadian operations. The dollars invested here will improve environmental performance, unlock new market opportunities, increase efficiencies and strengthen our global competitiveness for years to come.”

The five-year investment program combines recently started projects with projects yet to begin. It follows a comprehensive review of Vale’s Canadian operations that addressed issues of efficiencies, ageing infrastructure, environmental performance and creating a long-term sustainable future.

Operations in Sudbury upgraded

Approximately $3.4 billion will be invested to upgrade mining and processing facilities at the company’s century-old operations in Sudbury. These upgrades will make the facilities more efficient and significantly reduce atmospheric emissions by 2015.

Vale is also working towards completing Totten Mine – the first new Vale mine in Sudbury in almost 40 years. The nickel mine is expected to begin production in late 2011, and has an expected lifespan of approximately 20 years.

Other nickel mining-related expenditures and exploration in Ontario include a re-evaluation of the previously suspended Copper Cliff Deep project targeting 126 million metric tons of ore.

Growth of copper production planned

As part of Vale strategy to significantly grow its copper production, an aggressive exploration drilling program is underway in zones of high copper and precious metals including the Victor and Capre properties in Sudbury. Vale intends to announce in the near future its strategy and investments for increasing copper production in Canada by 100,000 metric tons.

Closure of Thompson nickel refinery

As part of its base metals blueprint for the future, Vale is focusing its efforts in Thompson, Manitoba on developing new sources of ore as it transitions its operations to mining and milling with the phasing out of smelting and refining by 2015.

Two key issues underpin the operating changes in Manitoba. Mineral reserves in Thompson have not been sufficient to operate the smelter and refinery at full capacity for some time. To account for this shortfall, Vale has been importing as much as 45% of the nickel processed in Thompson from sources outside Manitoba. This external feed is no longer available after 2013. Also contributing to the change are new federal SO2 emission standards expected to come into effect in 2015. The new standards require a reduction in airborne emissions of approximately 88% from current levels at the Thompson operation. Vale has concluded that it cannot practically meet this new regulatory standard in Manitoba.

Headquarters for global base metals business in Toronto

Vale’s offices in Toronto have expanded to become the headquarters for Vale’s global base metals business under the leadership of Mr. Martins. Today, Vale is pursuing growth opportunities in Canada that go beyond nickel into fertilizers and other base metals such as copper.

“Canada has much to offer Vale, and Vale has much to offer Canada,” said Mr. Martins. “We plan on being here for a very long time and leading the industry in embracing and succeeding in the new global economy.”

For more information, visit: www.vale.com 

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