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Miner Vale to double down on nickel growth in EV-led strategy

London — Brazilian miner Vale is dedicated to making inroads to strengthen its base metals business, specifically nickel, in a strategy for 2019 around an expected explosion in electric vehicles metals demand, CEO Fabio Schvartsman said at an event in London.

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The CEO said Vale's growth in base metals is a one-time chance and a huge priority for 2019, involving his entire executive team which will work with Eduardo de Salles Bartolomeo, Vale's executive officer for base metals.

"2019 is the year EV's go mass market," said Vale CFO Luciano Siani.

Siani said he expects that, as the likes of Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen offer EVs at lower prices, a price increase in nickel of $7,000 mt may be needed to incentivize higher supply.

With current margins of $6,400/mt in nickel, Vale sees potential for volume growth, cost reductions and price increases to add to EBITDA upside.

The miner expects to produce 244,000 mt of nickel in 2019, and raise volumes to 313,000 mt/year in the "short-term" and 400,000 mt/year in the "medium term", the company said this week.

--Hector Forster, hector.forster@spglobal.com

--Edited by Shashwat Pradhan, shashwat.pradhan@spglobal.com