New Century Resources enters negotiations with Vale for nickel-cobalt assets

Vale has entered into a 60-day exclusivity period with Australian zinc miner New Century Resources after the latter announced it was in talks with the Brazilian miner to buy its nickel and cobalt operations on the Pacific island of New Caledonia.

Subject to successful due diligence and negotiation, New Century will acquire 95% of Vale New Caledonia (VNC), with Société de participation minière du Sud calédonien retaining the remaining 5% stake.

Vale first announced its intention to divest its troubled New Caledonia operations in December 2019. The Goro mine has faced several technical setbacks, a chemical spill and protests by local residents in recent years.

New Century managing director Pat Walta said it plans to decommission the Goro refinery and move to producing a mixed hydroxide product – a staple of the battery industry – as well as simplifying the plant’s feed.

The acquisition would make New Century a major supplier of nickel and cobalt outside of the world’s biggest producer the Democratic Republic of Congo, and would put the company in a strong position to service the growing electric vehicle (EV) market.

The Goro mine has a production capacity of 60,000 tonnes per year (tpy) of nickel and 4,300-5,000 tpy of cobalt.