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Vale New Caledonia ramps up cobalt, nickel output

Keywords: Tags  Vale New Caledonia, VNC, Vale, cobalt, cobalt carbonate, nickel, nickel oxide, Mitsui Sumitomo Metal Mining

LONDON — Vale New Caledonia (VNC) continues to ramp up production of nickel oxide and cobalt carbonate, which it intends to sell to the Asian market.

VNC produced almost 100 tonnes of cobalt in the fourth quarter of 2012, bringing annual production to 385 tonnes. That’s up from 51 tonnes in the fourth quarter of 2011 and 245 tonnes for the full year.

The boost came after an incident at an acid plant last May led Rio de Janeiro-based parent company Vale SA to declare force majeure on nickel shipments from the smelter (, May 11). Production of both nickel oxide and cobalt carbonate began in the fourth quarter of 2012 after final modifications to the refinery were completed.

Separately, Vale, which holds a majority interest in VNC, confirmed that it will confine most of its sales to Asia.

"The VNC products are mainly focused on the Asian market," a Vale spokesperson told AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.

Tokyo-based Mitsui & Co. Ltd. and Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd. diluted their joint stake in the VNC project from 21 percent to 14.5 percent last year as part of their decision not to invest further in the project (, Oct. 25).

The Vale New Caledonia project has an expected annual capacity of 60,000 tonnes of nickel and 4,300 to 5,000 tonnes of cobalt once fully online. 

A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.

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