Vale departs New Caldonia as a New Century dawns

Port facility at the Goro operation. Image: Vale

New Century Resources is set to acquire Vale’s Goro nickel-cobalt mine in New Caledonia, a move that is supported by the Australian company’s key shareholder, IGO.

Melbourne-based New Century plans to acquire 95 per cent of Vale Nouvelle-Calédonie (VNC), which owns and operates the nickel mine.

Brazil’s Vale announced last December that its New Caledonian business was non-core to the company and that it intended to exit the operations. Three hundred workers are employed at Goro, 1350 of which are Vale employees.

The Goro operations include a fully integrated and operational mine, processing plant and port facility.

It is anticipated that the operation will transition to produce a mixed hydroxide product (MHP), which is highly sought after by the electric vehicle industry.

Should the acquisition be successful, New Century and IGO plan to discuss future MHP offtake opportunities.

“(New Century) is excited to continue to work with Vale on the completion of due diligence and negotiation of formal agreements for the acquisition,” New Century managing director Patrick Walta said.

“New Century has been impressed by the VNC site team and also the quality and scale of infrastructure at the Goro mine.

“The current initiatives instituted by VNC to simplify the flowsheet provide strong potential to transform Goro into a sustainable long-life operation and a major global supplier of nickel and non-DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) sourced cobalt.”

The Goro operation is targeted to obtain a licence for exporting saprolite ore, or magnesium-silicate mineral, which will generate further by-product revenue.

The financial terms of the transaction would include a package to support the continuity of the operations. New Century and Vale will also confirm the continued financing support of the French state.

New Century’s proposed acquisition is subject to New Caledonian law, consideration terms and regulatory, financing and shareholder approvals.

The first phase of operations commenced at Goro commenced in 2003 and the site has since grown to export 4500 containers of nickel and cobalt annually.

Vale reported that the sale would cost an additional impairment loss of around $US400 million ($609 million).

The Brazilian company also reaffirmed a commitment to transform its base metals business, including simplifying operations and enabling a focus on core assets.

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