Vale handed way out of $14bn tax dispute

Brazilian mining giant Vale (NYSE:VALE) has until the end of this week to accept or reject the terms of a government’s tax amnesty program that would allow the miner to almost halve a $14 billion debt and pay it back over the next 15 years.

According to Vox Populi (in Spanish), the deal would mean that the world’s largest iron ore producer and a top nickel miner would only have to pay about $8.5bn to Brazil’s tax agency, ending a dispute that began more than 10 years, which has weighed on the company's share price.

It would also open the door for the Rio de Janeiro-based company to find its way back into recently shelved projects, such as its $5.9 billion Rio Colorado potash project in Mendoza, Argentina.

The Brazilian tax authority claims Vale owes around $14bn in unpaid taxes on profits made from operations abroad, including the sale of some foreign subsidiaries between 1996 and 2008.

But Vale, which gets most of its revenue from outside Brazil, has repeatedly said it followed the law and that it expects the issue to be settled before the end of the year.

Brazil's finance ministry has estimated outstanding tax liabilities from all Brazilian companies operating abroad at $30 billion to $43 billion.