This Morning in Metals: Vale’s Q1 2019 Iron Ore Output, Sales Fall After Dam Disaster

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This morning in metals news, Brazilian miner Vale SA reported its Q1 2019 production totals, ArcelorMittal is idling mills in Europe and U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum questioned Interior Secretary David Bernhardt regarding plans to advance copper-nickel mining in northeastern Minnesota.

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Vale SA Reports Q1 Output

Brazilian miner Vale SA reported its Q1 iron ore output and sales figures this week, showing sharp declines in both.

In late January, a dam breach at a Vale mine in Brumadinho left hundreds dead and hobbled production amid review of safety conditions at other mines; as such, the iron ore price has soared in the ensuing months.

Vale reported iron ore fines production of 72.9 million tons in Q1, down 28% from the previous quarter and down 11% from Q1 2018.

Meanwhile, iron ore fines and pellet sales volume reached 67.7 million tons, which marked a 30% drop from Q4 2018 and a 20% drop from Q1 2018.

ArcelorMittal Idles European Mills

Earlier this week, steelmaker ArcelorMittal announced plans to temporarily idle steelmaking production at its Krakow, Poland facilities and reduce production in Asturias, Spain.

“In addition, the planned increase of shipments at ArcelorMittal Italia to a six million tonne annual run-rate will be slowed down following a decision to optimise cost and quality over volume in this environment,” ArcelorMittal said.

“Together, these actions will result in a temporary annualised production reduction of around three million tonnes.”

U.S. Rep. Questions Interior Secretary Over Minnesota Mining Plans

During a budget hearing this week, U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum questioned Interior Secretary David Bernhardt over plans to advance copper-nickel mining in northeastern Minnesota, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

The Minnesota Democrat raised concerns about the impacts of sulfide ore mining on public lands, referring to the proposed mining plans raise by Twin Metals Minnesota and mine owner Antofagasta.

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McCollum questioned Bernhardt about the status of documents related to the Trump administration’s reversal of an Obama administration decision to terminate Twin Metals’ federal mining leases and cancel a two-year study into the potential impacts of copper-nickel mining in the Superior National Forest on nearby wilderness areas.

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