Brazil’s Vale (NYSE:VALE) is growing its nickel output at a pace that not even its own executives were able to predict, with the Rio de Janeiro-based iron ore giant posting Thursday a 16% production increase of the stainless steel ingredient.
Nickel production totalled 72,100 tonnes in the September quarter, which is the best third-quarter performance since 2008, Vale said.
The figure takes the miner’s total output of the metal this year to 201,400 metric tons and its next production target of 289,000 tons in 2014, higher than predicted by Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest producer of the metal, which plans to produce 230,000 tons this year volume.
The historic output was reached despite planned maintenance at the company’s Thompson mine in Canada, Vale added.
Nickel production at the firm’s Canadian mines increased 18.7% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2014, reaching 41,700 tonnes, on higher volumes at its Sudbury and Thompson operations.
Analysts watch Vale’s base metals division, of which nickel is the largest component, to see if it can help offset falling revenue from iron ore.
Deutsche Bank experts expect nickel to peak at $27,000 a metric ton in 2017. However, nickel for delivery in the last three months fell 0.4% to $15,145 a ton in London Thursday, the lowest since March 3.
Vale is expected to release its third-quarter financial results later this month.
Image from WikiMedia Commons.