Vale saw its third-quarter nickel production increase 16.4% year-on-year, despite planned maintenance at its Canadian Thompson mine, the Brazilian miner said on Thursday October 23.

Nickel production totalled 72,100 tonnes in the September quarter, which is the best third-quarter performance for a since 2008, the company said in its production report.

From January to September, Vale produced a total of 201,400 tonnes of nickel, up by 4.7% from the corresponding months of 2013.

Canadian operations
Vale nickel production in Canada 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.

Sudbury output stood at 22,500 tonnes in the September quarter, 37.4% higher than in the same period of 2013.

The operations were back to normal in the third quarter, processing much of the inventory of feedstock accumulated in the previous quarter – Sudbury completed a planned maintenance shutdown in some mines and surface facilities in the second quarter.

Production at Thompson increased 5.9% year-on-year in the September quarter, to 5,100 tonnes, while Voisey’s Bay nickel concentrate output fell 26.4% in the same comparison, to 9,100 tonnes, the miner said.

Voisey’s Bay had a planned maintenance for 10 days in July.

Vale has informed that “Long Harbour commissioning work continues as planned”, producing its first nickel cathode rounds in July 2014.

Other operations
Indonesian finished nickel output fell 6% on an annual basis, to 20,800 tonnes in the third quarter of 2014.

The figure includes 1,500 tonnes of nickel matte “that was in transit by the end of the previous quarter and was processed in other refineries in the current quarter”, Vale said in the report.

Vale New Caledonian (VNC)'s production of finished products posted a decrease of 19.1% in September quarter, to 3,800 tonnes.

VNC is continuing its ramp-up after a leakage of acid solution in May, which led to the shutdown of the complex. It has been operating with two HPALs since the beginning of September.

“The target for the fourth quarter of 2014 is to stabilise the operation with two HPALs running consistently and improving the safe operation of the plant”, Vale said in the report.

In Brazil, Onça Puma project reached 93% of its nominal capacity in the third quarter of 2014.

It produced 5,800 tonnes of nickel contained in ferro-nickel in the period, up by 11.3% from the previous quarter.

Vale also said it has been carrying out a shutdown of nearly ten days in the fourth quarter of 2014, so as to permanently repair the refractory in the rotary kiln furnace.

Vale's cobalt output totalled 884 tonnes in the third quarter of 2014, down by 6.9% from a year earlier, when the company produced 950 tonnes.

Danielle Assalve
Twitter: dassalve_mb