The Voisey’s Bay deposits are located in Labrador, Canada, and was discovered in 1993 with production commencing in 2005. Voisey’s Bay boasts attractive ESG credentials including being one of the largest cobalt producers outside the DRC, and has one of the lowest CO2 equivalent intensities per unit of payable metal. The operation has also been awarded the national John T. Ryan safety award for six consecutive years.
The mine is fully owned by Vale, hosting a fly-in and fly-out camp with integrated mining and milling operations that produce nickel and copper concentrates (containing cobalt by-products). Nickel concentrates are processed at Vale’s nickel refinery located at Long Harbour whilst its copper concentrates are sold directly to the market. Processing of the nickel concentrates at Long Harbour Processing Plant involves high pressure acid leaching, and solvent extraction and electrowinning (‘SX-EW’) processes. Mining operations are transitioning from the Ovoid open-pit to underground mining as part of the Voisey’s Bay underground mine extension project (‘VBME’). A Feasibility Study was completed in 2015 on the Voisey’s Bay Mine Expansion project (VBME), which includes two underground mines, Reid Brook and Eastern Deeps, and extends the mine life to 2035 with further exploration potential both in those zones at depth and also at the open-pit Discovery Hill deposit.
Following on from the start of production from the Reid Brook underground mine in June 2021, Vale is continuing ramping up to full production. The Eastern Deeps mine development continues with first ore forecast to begin in mid-2023 and the production ramp up advancing in H2 2023. The full ramp up in underground production is expected to be completed in 2025 when annual production is forecast to reach around 45,000 tonnes of nickel by 2025, with about 20,000 tonnes of copper and 2,600 tonnes of cobalt as by-products.
Production costs are in the second lowest quartile of the global nickel mine cost curve.