Vale moves closer to deal for Onca Puma nickel mine to resume operations

Onça Puma nickel mine. (Image: Vale)

Vale and the Brazilian state of Para have moved closer to an agreement that could allow the mining group to resume operations at its Onca Puma nickel mine, according to the minutes of a meeting seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

Onca Puma, which has an estimated annual nominal capacity of 27,000 metric tons, had its operating licence suspended earlier this year after Para’s environment department flagged irregularities in an annual environmental report.

The state in northern Brazil also cited “non-compliance” on mining mitigation efforts that it said resulted in conflicts with local communities.

Vale, which has maintained since February it did not see signs of environmental or social breaches at the mine, brought the matter to courts and the parties had a conciliation hearing before Brazil’s Supreme Court on Monday.

The hearing concluded with both Vale and the state signaling they are willing to find a way to resolve the stalemate, the minutes showed.

The main obstacle in the case revolved around Vale’s alleged non-compliance with actions to mitigate impacts resulting from mining activities.

The state identified 14 points that it considered to show “unsatisfactory compliance” by Vale, which committed to resubmitting an environmental impact report meeting Para’s requirements.

The company also committed to hiring local workers, providing scholarships in the region, and helping to protect local wildlife, signaling both parties were aligned on “issues considered most sensitive,” according to the document.

“The state’s top prosecutor will take the referrals from this hearing to the governor for the purpose of analyzing the resumption of Vale’s activities,” the minutes said, adding a further meeting is expected to take place on June 20.

Vale and Para have also agreed to start a dialogue about the Sossego copper mine, whose operating licence was suspended earlier this year for similar reasons. Sossego produced 66,800 metric tons of copper in 2023.

(By Ricardo Brito and Gabriel Araujo; Editing by David Holmes)


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *