Brazilian group Vale has announced that it has entered into exclusive negotiations with a consortium that includes trading company Trafigura, with a view to selling its Vale Nouvelle Calédonie (VNC) plant. The consortium will be 50% owned by New Caledonian interests including management and staff, as well as New Caledonian provinces. In addition, Trafigura will own a 25% share, with the remaining 25% held by an investment company.
This announcement is yet another development in Vale’s long-running effort to divest the VNC operation. The company had previously planned to sell the plant in 2017, although these efforts came to nothing. At the end of 2019, Vale tried again, although along with the announcement of a renewed sales push came a re-organisation of the operation that included the closure of the nickel oxide refinery, leaving the plant to focus exclusively on nickel-cobalt intermediate products targeting demand from the battery industry.
Roskill understands from reports in the New Caledonian press that the current exclusivity period between Vale and the consortium, called Prony Resources New Caledonia, runs until 4 December and that the parties aim to close the transaction in January 2021. It has also been reported that in order to facilitate the sale, Vale is offering to buy part of the plant’s production for several years.
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