UPDATE 1-Vale to fully suspend New Caledonia ops; nickel price soars

viernes 9 de mayo de 2014 02:44 GYT

(Adds detail from statement, prices)

SYDNEY May 9 (Reuters) - Mining giant Vale said it has suspended 80 percent of its nickel production in New Caledonia due to an effluent spill, and plans to have a full shutdown later on Friday, sending nickel prices up nearly 6 percent.

The company is waiting to hear from the local government about when it can resume operations following the spill. New Caledonia is on a public holiday on Friday.

The news added more heat to London nickel prices which have have soared by more than 47 percent this year on supply concerns after Indonesia banned ore exports in January. Three-month nickel on the London Metal Exchange (CMNI3) surged 5.7 percent to a fresh 26-month peak of $20,500 a tonne.

Nickel buyers in China and Japan are scrambling to secure supplies as soaring prices and a fear of shortages boosts demand for both refined metal and long-term ore contracts.

Vale said in a statement that the spill contained some acid, but that subsequent test results carried out on a nearby river and the sea showed conditions appeared to have returned to normal.

The stoppage affects 3,500 workers, Vale said, of which 1300 are employees and the rest subcontractors. (Reporting by Cecile Lefort and Melanie Burton; Editing by Richard Pullin and Ed Davies)