NEW YORK Vale SA will extend the life of its Voiseys Bay nickel mine in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador past 2030 by moving from open-pit to underground.
Vale committed to the government of Newfoundland and Labrador to develop the underground mine because of a delayed construction schedule at its Long Harbour nickel processing plant.
The delay means that the plant will not be ready to process all of the nickel concentrate from Voiseys Bay until 2015.
The underground mine will have a capacity of approximately 40,000 tonnes of nickel per year, according to a statement from the provincial government who also highlighted that the mine would ensure more jobs and benefits are created in the province.
It will start producing ore in 2019 and is expected to remain in production past 2030, extending the life of the mine by at least 15 years.
Underground mining is the next natural evolution in our operations at Voiseys Bay, and todays announcement allows us to unlock additional value in this world-class operation, Vales vice president for Newfoundland and Labrador Ltd. operations Jeff McLaughlin said in a statement.
The Long Harbour plants construction was originally scheduled to be completed in February 2013.
Rio de Janeiro-based Vale currently plans to start operations at the plant in the second half of 2013 using imported nickel matte, with Voiseys Bay concentrate being introduced gradually in 2014 once all of the impurity-removal circuits are fully operational.