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Jun 18, 2020

Vale to restart nickel mine in Canada after COVID-19 pause

A monitor displays Vale SA signage on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Thursday, March 29, 2018. U.S. stocks climbed as markets moved toward the end of a tumultuous quarter on a high note. Equities in Europe also rose following a mixed session in Asia.

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Vale SA, the top commercial nickel producer, will resume operations next month at its Voisey’s Bay mine in Canada after halting work to monitor the coronavirus outbreak.

Production at the nickel-cobalt-copper mine in Labrador is expected to restart early July and reach full capacity by early August, the Rio de Janeiro-based company said in a statement Thursday.

Voisey’s Bay was placed on care and maintenance in mid-March as mining companies around the world paused while governments implemented measures to stem the spread of the disease. Its resumption comes as economies begin to reopen and prices of steel-making inputs recover.

The restart of Voisey’s Bay may be more significant for the copper market than nickel. Vale continued processing nickel inventories during the mining shutdown but didn’t have enough stockpiles to keep supplying copper, BMO analyst Edward Sterck said in a report.

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Vale is partnering with a private testing lab in Newfoundland & Labrador to provide testing of all employees entering the site. There have been no cases of Covid-19 to date at the site, Vale said.

“Vale remains firm in its commitment to the safety of its people and the communities in which it operates and will continue to consult and cooperate with local health authorities to establish world-class initiatives in the fight against Covid-19,” the company said.

The resumption includes restarting critical path activities related to an expansion project.

The announcement comes a day after Vale said it got approval to resume operations at three iron-ore mines in southern Brazil after authorities approved its revised Covid-19 protocols.