Vale has made the decision to ramp down its nickel mining operation at Voisey’s Bay, Canada for a period of four weeks amid the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. The decision was taken as part of precautionary measures to protect the health and well being of the Nunatsiavut and Innu indigenous communities in the Labrador region, as well as its employees, local communities and businesses.
At the same time, Vale also announced that its Long Harbour nickel refinery, which receives concentrates from Voisey’s Bay, will remain in operation by processing stockpiled material.
Vale commenced operations at Voisey’s Bay in 2005 and, in 2019, produced a total of 35.4kt nickel-in-concentrate. The mining operation has supplied nickel, cobalt, and copper concentrates to the Long Harbour refinery since 2014.
Despite the negative impact of temporarily suspending operations at Voisey’s Bay, the Long Harbour refinery is reported to benefit from sufficient stockpiled concentrates that are expected to last the duration of Voisey’s Bay’s suspension. As a result, Vale does not expect nickel or cobalt production to be affected.
These types of measures taken by mining companies amid the Covid-19 pandemic are likely to become an increasingly familiar trend over the days and weeks to come. As the virus spreads across the globe, its effects continue to be felt and uncertainty remains as to just how severe the impact will be on the nickel market through 2020. While China restarts its furnaces after flattening its Covid-19 curve, third-party supply from international sources will be stretched for various commodities as the infection trajectory outside of China accelerates further.
Roskill’s NEW Nickel: Outlook to 2029 report will be published in April 2020, outlining the industry trends and forecasts for the next decade. For more information or to subscribe click here.