TOKYO, April 1 (Reuters) - Japan’s Mitsui & Co and Sumitomo Metal Mining have sold their stake in the Goro nickel project in New Caledonian to Vale for $135 million after the project failed to reach a targeted utilisation rate, Mitsui said.
Before the deal, trading house Mitsui held a 6.9 percent stake in Vale New Caledonia (VNC), the operator of the Goro nickel project, while Sumitomo Metal Mining, Japan’s biggest nickel smelter, owned a 7.6 percent stake. Brazilian miner Vale had an 80.5 percent stake.
“We’ve used our put options as the project had not reached a targeted utilisation level at the end of December,” a Mitsui spokesman said, without disclosing the figure.
The processing plant, which has an annual production capacity of 57,000 tonnes in terms of nickel content, has been beset by problems in recent years, including several chemical spills and violent protests.
Vale’s non-ferrous metals chief Jennifer Maki said last December the miner expected a 50 percent increase in output from the Goro nickel project in 2016. (Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Richard Pullin)