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Vale rules out major acquisitions

Vale CEO Fabio Schvartsman. (Image courtesy of Vale.)

Brazil’s mining giant Vale (NYSE:VALE), the world’s No.1 iron ore and nickel producer, has ruled out any major acquisitions in the short-term and said it would only invest further in nickel if global prices for the metal improve.

Speaking at the FT Commodities Global Summit in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday, Vale chief executive Fabio Schvartsman said the company would only consider developing its giant nickel reserves in Indonesia if the price of the metal increased to $20,000 a tonne from its current price of just below $13,000 a tonne.

Along with lithium and cobalt, nickel is a key material in the batteries that power electric vehicles.

The metal climbed around 75 percent in the first half of this year, prompting investment in related projects. Vale itself announced decided in June to move ahead with construction of an underground mine at its Voisey’s Bay nickel mine, located in Canada’s Atlantic province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The company also suspended the sale of a stake in another of its nickel mines — New Caledonia, located on the remote South Pacific island.

Prices have fallen since and remain volatile because of oversupply, despite the metal’s key role in lithium-ion batteries that are used in electric cars.

The nickel sector is becoming a two-tiered market, with a weaker outlook for materials bound for the stainless steel industry and robust demand growth in the electric vehicles (EV) sector that’ll support prices, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said in a note Tuesday.

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the EV industry will require about 1.4 million tonnes of high-purity nickel by 2030, more than the total market for the material in 2017.