Vale invests $6 million in Boston Metal to support new tech
Vale has bought a US$6 million minority stake in Boston Electrometallurgical Company (Boston Metal) to promote the development of a technology focused on steel decarbonization.
It follows Vale and Energy Impact Partners joining Boston Metal's Series B fundraising, following a $50M close announced in January, in which BHP and Bill Gates-founded Breakthrough Energy Ventures were also investors, according to Bloomberg.
Boston Metal has a diverse shareholder base which includes venture capital funds, mining companies and private investors.
Founded in 2012 by professors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Professor Antoine Allanore, Dr. Jim Yurko and Donald R. Sadoway), its objective is to develop an innovative technology called Molten Oxide Electrolysis (MOE), which reduces metal oxides such as iron ore with the use of electricity.
This MOE process will enable the reduction of iron ore for the production of steel with zero CO2 emissions. It produces metal with no carbon, no blast furnaces and no emissions, except oxygen.
The investment in Boston Metal is in line with Vale’s 'New Pact with Society' strategic pillar. The company is committed to leading the transition to net-zero carbon mining and fostering a portfolio of high-quality products and innovative technologies.
Vale recently signed a settlement deal to pay 37.7 billion reais ($7 billion) to the state of Minas Gerais, following the collapse of a dam two years ago that devastated the city of Brumadinho and killed more than 270 people, according to reports.
Deloitte notes that the industry is at an important juncture and needs to "rebuild trust". Mining holds the key to a lower carbon future through many of the minerals it mines, yet the industry is capital starved.
"It has the potential to create widespread meaningful employment, yet it’s often not the first choice for talent. And while mining companies have played a significant role though the COVID-19 crisis by flying in personal protective equipment (PPE), leveraging their healthcare infrastructure, and keeping workers safe, many governments continue to look towards the industry for additional taxes and royalty payments," it notes.
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.