Vale cuts activity at Voisey Bay over coronavirus risks

The Voisey’s Bay nickel mine and concentrator is located on the north coast of Labrador, Canada. (Image courtesy of Vale)

Brazilian miner Vale SA is reducing activity and output at its Voisey’s Bay copper mine in Canada as a precaution to protect nearby indigenous communities from coronavirus, the company said in a securities filing late on Monday.

Vale also said it may change the start date of a planned stoppage at its coal processing mines in Mozambique, originally scheduled to begin in the second quarter, due to travel and equipment transportation restrictions caused by coronavirus.

This could affect could ultimately affect coal production guidance for 2020, it said.

The plant in Canada will be placed in “care and maintenance” for four weeks, Vale said in the filing, noting that no employee has tested positive for coronavirus and that the measure is due to high exposure to travel in the remote area.

“The Long Harbor processing plant is still in operation and nickel and cobalt production should not be affected. Copper production at Voisey’s Bay, however, will be reduced in proportion to the mine downtime,” Vale said.

The precautionary measure should help protect “the health and well-being of the indigenous Nunatsiavut and Innu communities in Labrador (from) the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The mine produced 25,000 tonnes of copper concentrate in 2019, according to the company.

(By Jamie McGeever; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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