Vale gets green light to restart nickel mine in New Caledonia

Vale gets green light to restart nickel mine in New Caledonia

Rioters caused tens of millions of dollars in damage to vehicles, equipment and buildings at the plant on Tuesday. Image by Thierry Perron | Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes. See full slideshow here.

Brazil’s Vale (NYSE:VALE) has got the green light from New Caledonian authorities to restart nickel mining activities Friday, after being forced to suspend operations at the $6bn plant earlier this month due to a chemical spill.

Dozens of rioters caused between $20 and $30 million in damage to vehicles, equipment and buildings at the facility on Tuesday, as anger boiled after some 100,000 litres of acid-tainted effluent leaked from the troubled plant and into a local river, killing about 1,000 fish.

A spokeswoman for the Goro province told Reuters Friday authorities were ready to issue an authorization to restart mining activities “by the end of the day or in the next few days."

Nickel prices have reacted to Vale’s plant closure, which on top of Indonesia's nickel ore export ban have worsened the current the tightness in the market.

Vale gets green light to restart nickel mine in New Caledonia

Spot quotes are non-LME prices. Source: Kitco.com

The metal was trading up 0.16% at $8,7153 per pound on Friday. Overall it is up by more than 35% this year.

Nickel mining is a key industry in New Caledonia, which holds as much as a quarter of the world's known reserves. Vale's plant is the second-largest employer in the southern province, with some 3,500 employees and contractors.