Vale gears up for Voisey’s Bay restart

Vale says it has moved from care and maintenance into a planned maintenance period at the Voisey’s Bay mine in Labrador, Canada as a first step to resuming operations in early July.

This move includes restarting critical path activities related to the Voisey’s Bay Mine Expansion project, which could see annual production increase to around 45,000 t of nickel, on average, about 20,000 t of copper and about 2,600 t of cobalt, in total.

The planned return to production follows a period of three months of monitoring progress and events associated with the COVID-19 outbreak. Initially, on March 16, the company announced a four-week care and maintenance period for the mine due to the “unique remoteness of the area” and as a precaution to help protect the health and well-being of Nunatsiavut and Innu indigenous communities in Labrador in the face of the COVID-19 spread. This was subsequently extended.

Production is expected to resume in early July and to reach full capacity by early August, it said.

“In line with World Health Organization protocols to test, remove, track and treat positive or suspicious cases, Vale is partnering with a private testing lab in Newfoundland & Labrador to provide extensive polymerase chain reaction testing of all employees entering the site,” Vale explained.

“The enhanced testing capacity enables the early identification, tracing and stopping of the spread of any potential COVID-19 cases.”

Vale noted that there have been no cases of COVID-19 to date at site.