Vale has started nickel production from the Onca Puma nickel project in the Para State of Brazil.

The project, consisting of a mine and a processing plant, will have a capacity of 53,000t a year of nickel contained in ferro-nickel, its final product.

The firm has started the production of first metal from the first of the two ferro-nickel production line and expects to begin production from the second line later this year.

Vale is investing about $146m in 2011 to ramp-up the Onça Puma project, which was built on lateritic nickel deposits of saprolitic ore with total estimated investment of $2.8bn.