Brazilian mining company Vale is in advanced discussions with undisclosed potential partners for its new base metals investment vehicle, reported Reuters citing Vale chief financial officer Gustavo Pimenta.

A potential deal could be signed during the first half of 2023.

Vale plans to place its copper and nickel mines into a new legal structure, named Vale Base Metals.

Pimenta was cited by the news agency as saying to investors during a meeting at the New York Stock Exchange that Vale plans to hold a 90% stake in a new base metals unit to have control over the venture’s decisions and divest a 10% interest to the selected partner.

To be based outside of Brazil, Vale’s new company is estimated to have a capital expenditure of $20bn.

It will manage nickel assets in Canada, Indonesian joint ventures, the Onca Puma nickel mine and the Salobo copper project in Brazil, according to Bloomberg News.

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Pimenta said: “We will change the way we manage base metals. We are looking to bring people with the capability to advise the board on investment decisions.”

Vale’s plan to separate the base metal assets from its iron ore operations follows several years of deliberations and comes in the wake of increased global demand for metals used in wiring and electric-vehicle batteries.

Pimenta was quoted by Bloomberg News as saying: “There is no business at this scale combining copper plus nickel in the world today.”

Vale anticipates its nickel production to reach 230,000mtpa -245,000mtpa in the mid-term. This capacity is expected to exceed 300,000t by 2030.

By the end of this decade, the firm’s copper production is expected to triple to 900,000t from existing levels.