Two mining companies announced Thursday that their respective dealings with Japanese smelters and steel manufacturers have not been impacted by the devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami at this time.

Vale said the company’s nickel refinery in Matsuzaka in southern Japan continues to operate normally.

At its commercial office in Tokyo, Vale has directed its 21 employees to work from their homes or the homes of their relatives as a safety measure, “due to seismic incidents, public transport problems and in order to save energy.”

Nonetheless, Vale said the employees continue to perform their duties-coordinating workers and remaining in frequent contact with customers.

Meanwhile Vale said it has been working together with Japanese steel manufacturers and its nickel refinery’s customers to mitigate and overcome problems arising from the earthquake and the tsunami. “The company has been supporting unconditionally its Japanese customers, offering complete flexibility in administering their shipment programs, enabling increases or decreases in volumes and changes in quality and product type as well as deploying shipments.”

Vale shipped 30.8 million tons of iron ore and pellets to Japan last year, equivalent to 10.5% of the total amount sold by the company.

Thus far sales to Japan have not been affected, Vale noted. “According to available information, the impact on Japanese steelmakers has been limited, despite the magnitude of the natural events, and most of them have resumed operations.” As of Thursday, Vale has 56 ships waiting to be loaded at its ports, nine of which are destined for Japan.

The Brazilian-based iron ore mega miner also contributed US$1.5 million to the Japanese Red Cross in order to help the victims of the earthquake and tsunami.


Copper Mountain Mining Corporation (TSX: CUM) Thursday said the earthquake has not impacted its Copper Mountain Project in southern British Columbia although joint venture partner Mitsubishi Materials Corporation (MMC) has suspended operations at its Onahama copper smelter because of the terrible damage by the earthquake and tsunami as well as damage to infrastructure and logistics for the smelter.

MMC has contracted to purchase 100% of the copper concentrate produced by the Copper Mountain Project, which has a current resource of 5 billion pounds of copper. “In accordance with the contracts, MMC will implement necessary actions to fulfill its obligations in good faith, MMC’s commitment to the project is unchanged,” Copper Mountain Mining Corporation stressed.

Mitsubishi currently operates three copper smelters including two in Japan which include Onahama and Naoshima with capacity of 258,000 tons and 225,000 tons annually. The company’s PT smelting in Indonesia has a 300,000 ton-capacity.

The $438 million Copper Mountain project is fully financed and in construction and on schedule for the mine to produce 100 million pounds of copper annually by mid-2011. At full production Copper Mountain will employ 271 personnel.

Reuters has reported that Japan is expected to produce 1.6 million pounds of copper this year, or about 7.6% of world output. “Currently there is excess smelter capacity, the majority of which is in China as the country continues to feed its need for raw materials and refined copper in particular,” Copper Mountain Mining Corp. observed. “The Copper Mountain concentrate is very clean and an acceptable concentrate at most smelters.”