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Vale eyes 500,000T/year copper production

Keywords: Tags  Vale, copper output, Salobo mine, Sossego mine, Mark Burton

LONDON — Vale SA will focus on keeping copper output above 500,000 tonnes per year for the next 10 years following dramatic growth in Brazil over the past decade, the company’s business development director said Oct. 3.

Vale had no copper production assets in Brazil a decade ago, but after buying out joint-venture partners in the Salobo and Sossego projects and bringing both mines into production, the company’s total copper output has grown to more than 500,000 tonnes per year, Paulo Araujo told delegates at the inaugural Copper Concentrates Conference in London hosted by AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.

Further investments could add another 100,000 tonnes per year to Brazilian output, but development will need to be self-financed and will depend on market conditions, he said.

Vale made decisions to invest in Salobo and Sossego during periods of weakness in the copper market, and as such it has been focused on targeting low capital expenditure production growth, Araujo said.

"We are now focused on having a copper business that is 100 percent self-financed and keeps production at 500,000 tonnes per year, or maybe 600,000 tonnes per year (with investments in Salobo and Sossego)," he told delegates.

Including contributions from the Sudbury and Lubambe mines, Vale’s global output is broadly similar to that of Vancouver, British Columbia-based KGHM International Ltd., London-based Rio Tinto Plc or Antofagasta Plc, London, he said.

In 2010, Rio de Janeiro-based Vale set out on a campaign to increase its annual copper production to 1 million tonnes by 2017, but it has since revised this growth plan in response to higher capital expenditure costs and weaker overall copper market conditions, he said.

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

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