Vale iron ore chief abandons ship amid price crisis
Brazilian mining giant Vale (NYSE:VALE), the world’s largest iron ore miner, said Monday its ferrous business chief Jose Carlos Martins, has left the company “to pursue new challenges,” and has been immediately replaced by base-metals head Peter Poppinga.
Martins, 64, joined the company in 2004 and he was the Rio de Janeiro-based firm’s longest-serving executive director. A company spokeswoman told MINING.com his departure was not unexpected as, under Vale’s governance rules, executive officers end their terms at the age of 65.
“Vale believes Peter’s track record of productivity increases and achievements in cost reductions in the base metals business will serve him well in making the iron-ore business even more competitive,” the company said in today’s statement.
Jennifer Maki will take over as executive director of base metals, replacing Poppinga, Vale added.
The move comes as iron ore prices are hitting historical lows, dropping to 2009 levels last week, and Vale’s share tumbled down to the lowest in eight years after Citigroup Inc. recommended selling the stock on the deteriorating outlook for iron-ore prices.
On Nov. 10 the group slashed its iron ore price forecast for 2015, saying it could easily drop below $60 per tonne — the most bearish estimate yet from a financial institution on the steelmaking raw material.
Weak iron ore prices caused Vale a $1.44 billion net loss during it third quarter. The company was also rumoured to be close to losing its chief executive officer Murilo Ferreira, since newly re-elected Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff would appoint him as her new finance minister. However, Vale's spokeswoman said Ferreira had denied such rumours during a press conference call held Oct 30 to comment on the company’s Q3 results.