Vale smashes output records in 2016

By
Thursday, February 16, 2017

Brazilian mining giant Vale's iron ore output from its own operations rose 0.9% in 2016 to 349Mt.

The record-breaking tally was within original production guidance of 340-350Mt. Vale cited an "outstanding operational performance" of its northern system in Q4 and the start-up of [flagship iron ore project] S11D (pictured), among other factors.

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Annual production from Vale's largest mine, Carajás, was up 14.3% to a record 148Mt, the company said in an output report.

Vale's southeast system, which comprises the Itabira, Minas Centrais and Mariana mines, produced 103Mt in 2016, down 9.1%.

The company's pellet output stood at 46.2Mt, stable compared with the previous year.

Vale said it is advancing plans to re-start its São Luis pellet operation in early 2018 following the renewal of its operational license, the revamp of the plant and the upgrade of its automation systems.

Samarco, a 50:50 JV between Vale and BHP Billiton, produced no pellets in 2016, the Brazilian miner said. Authorities shut down Samarco's facilities in Minas Gerais state after a deadly tailings dam burst in November 2015.

COPPER

Vale's annual copper output (excluding attributable production from Lubambe in Africa) was a record 445,500t, up 7.6%, mainly thanks to record fourth quarter output at Brazil's Salobo and Canada's Sudbury.

"Production of copper in concentrate at Salobo reached a record of 49,800t in 4Q16, 12.4% higher than in 3Q16 and 18.6% higher than in 4Q15, respectively," Vale said.

Salobo set a monthly production record of 17,449t in December.

NICKEL, GOLD

Annual nickel production rose 7.0% to a record 311,000t.

Production from the Onça Puma operation in Brazil was 24,100t in 2016, down 1.2% on account of unscheduled electric furnace shutdowns in Q4, Vale said.

Vale also reported record annual gold output of 483,000oz, up 15.0%. The company produces gold as a by-product of nickel and copper-processesing operations.

COBALT

Annual cobalt production was a record 5,799t, up 27.9%.

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.