Glencore, Vale may merge their Canadian nickel assets: report

The “Big Nickel,” a nine-metre replica of a Canadian coin, located in Sudbury, Ontario.

Glencore Xstrata (LON:GLEN) and Brazil’s Vale (NYSE:VALE) have reportedly renewed negotiations to merge their nickel operations in Canada’s Sudbury basin, insiders told Reuters Friday.

Although talks at an early stage, the potential combination of assets could mean substantial savings for both companies, especially after nickel leaders predicted this week a shortage of the metal, which should boost its price between 2015 and 2019.

The roots of the expected tie-up go back to 2006, when the main nickel producers Inco and Falconbridge, came close to a deal that was supposed to bring them $350 million in savings a year. That was before both Xstrata —then independent of Glencore— and Vale bought the two companies.

After that, current Vale CEO Murilo Ferreira, led Vale Inco, which later became Vale Canada.

Depending on the details of a potential deal, several of the sources said a tie-up could result in annual savings of around $550 million, if all or part of their mining, milling and even smelting operations are brought together.

Glencore Xstrata owns the Nickel Rim South Mine and the Fraser Mine, as well as a mill and smelter in the area, also known as “the nickel city.”

Vale has six mines, a mill, a smelter and a refinery, which makes it one of the world’s biggest integrated mining operations.

Image from WikiMedia Commons.

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