SÃO PAULO, Brazil
Brazilian mining company Vale SA has been facing difficulties
at two of its nickel operationsOnça Puma in the
northern Brazilian state of Pará and its New Caledonia
project in the South Pacific.
Onça Puma ceased
operations before the end of the second quarter due to
breakdowns in two furnaces.
"We are still assessing the
extent of the repairs needed and the time required to perform
them," Vale said in its second-quarter report. "Initial
indications suggest it is likely that both furnaces will be out
of operation for the next few months."
At New Caledonia, an incident at
an acid plant in May led to the closure of the unit and the
company declared force majeure. "We are planning
repairs for the acid plant, and all equipment is expected to be
operational by year-end," Vale said.
Despite the setbacks,
Vales total nickel output grew 8.8 percent in the second
quarter to 60,900 tonnes from 56,000 tonnes in the same period
last year. The company said nickel output could have been
higher if it were not for the temporary suspension of the
Sudbury Mine in Ontario due to an accident in January.
temporary suspensionfor safety assessment of mining
operations in Sudburynegatively affected finished nickel
production" in the second quarter, Vale said.
Sudbury and Sorowako in
Indonesia accounted for most of the finished nickel production
during the second quarter17,400 tonnes at Sudbury, up
69.1 percent from a year earlier, and 17,000 tonnes at
Sorowako, an 11.6-percent decline. Output at Voiseys Bay
in Labrador fell 5.2 percent to about 15,000 tonnes because the
unit was affected by maintenance stoppages in Sudbury, where
part of the feed is processed. Production at the Thompson Mine
in Manitoba totaled about 7,000 tonnes in the second quarter,
up 1 percent from a year ago.
Vale said that due to the
reduced availability of feed, it had moved up maintenance
stoppages slated for the third quarter to the second