28 May 2015

New Caledonia's Vale hopes to end losses

3:43 pm on 28 May 2015

The head of the Vale New Caledonia mining company says this year it may move out of the red for the first time since the seven-billion US dollar plant's launch.

Antonin Beurrier says 10,000 tonnes of nickel has been produced so far this year and a total of 37,000 is the target for the year.

Because of a range of setbacks, including spills and closures, the plant has never worked at full capacity of 54,000 tonnes which is now expected to be reached in 2017.

Mr Beurrier says 2015 will be critical for the company also because the Brazilian parent, Vale, as the world's largest iron ore producer, needs to cope with the halving of the ore price.

He says nickel prices are also depressed.

The plant at Goro has been highly controversial because of the environmental damage caused to a nearby World Heritage lagoon.

It has also been the target of massive vandalism.