Brazil's Vale sets quarterly output record

By
Thursday, April 20, 2017

Brazilian mining giant Vale's iron ore output from its own operations rose 11.2% in 1Q17 to 86.2Mt, a record for a first quarter.

Vale said the performance was mostly due to a ramp-up of iron ore projects S11D and Itabiritos.

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Quarterly production from Vale's so-called northern system, which comprises the Carajás, Serra Leste and S11D mines, was up 11.1% to a Q1 record of 36Mt, the company said in an output report.

Vale's southeastern system, which comprises the Itabira, Minas Centrais and Mariana mining hubs, produced 28.2Mt in the quarter, up 24.9%.

The company's pellet output stood at 12.4Mt, up 8.2% compared with the previous year.

Vale said it is advancing plans to re-start its São Luis pellet operation in 2H18 following the renewal of its operational license, the revamp of the plant and the upgrade of its automation systems.

COPPER

Vale's quarterly copper output, excluding attributable production from Lubambe in Africa, totaled 107,400t, down 2.3%, mainly because of lower production in Sudbury, Canada.

"Production of copper in concentrate at Salobo [Brazil] reached 42,600t in 1Q17, 14.5% lower than in 4Q16 and 3.6% higher than in 1Q16, respectively," Vale said.

Production was negatively impacted by conveyor belt and plant repairs in February, as well as by lower grades when compared to 4Q16.

NICKEL, GOLD

Quarterly nickel production fell 2.9% to 71,400t.

Production from the Onça Puma operation in Brazil was 6,100t in 1Q17, up 10.6% year-on-year on account of improved asset utilization and productivity, Vale said.

Vale also reported quarterly gold output of 105,000oz, down 11%. The company produces gold as a by-product of nickel and copper-processing operations.

GUIDANCE

Vale expects to produce 360-380Mt of iron ore this year.

"From the end of 2018 onwards Vale will most likely achieve the long-term base case target of 400Mt," the company said.

Rio de Janeiro-based Vale is the world's largest producer and exporter of iron ore and the biggest nickel producer. The company also produces manganese, coal, potash, phosphates and nitrogen, and has an extensive logistics network.