The Onça Puma Nickel Project, Brazil
Vale is in the early stages of commissioning its Onça Puma nickel operations. The project is meant for the production of 58,000 tpa of nickel contained in ferro-nickel, substantially contributing to the company’s vision to achieve world leadership in the nickel business. Mineral resources will be exploited from the homonymous deposits in the Midwest of state of Para, Brazil — some 100 km southwestwards from the company’s Carajás iron ore properties.
Resources as of 83 Mt at 1.73 % Ni will sustain a mine life of approximately 40 years. The property was acquired in late 2005 and Vale has since complemented the engineering studies and proceeded with the implementation. Nickel will be mined from saprolitic ore at a rate of approximately 10 Mtpa (ore plus waste) in early years — ramping up to some 15 Mtpa 7 years later —, to feed the plant at a rate of approximately 2.5 Mtpa.
The process uses conventional RKEF (Rotary Kiln Electric Furnace) pyrometalurgical route whereby the ore is homogenized, calcined in rotary kilns, melted in electric furnaces and further refined to ferro-nickel. The plant has been designed and constructed applying the latest available technology, aligned with Vale’s vison to exceed the highest existing standards for environmental control, health and safety and productivity in the industry.
The Onça Puma Project will materially contribute to the regional development and well being of the surrounding communities and other stakeholders.