Vale has started nickel production operations at its $2.48bn Onca Puma ferronickel plant in south-east Para, Brazil.

The plant will use deposits of lateritic nickel from areas in the Onça Mountain, which are close to the plant, and from the Puma Mountain, around 16km away.

The project also consists of an electricity substation to serve the operational unit.

The development will cover the municipalities of Ourilandia do Norte, Tucuma and Parauapebas, and has an annual production capacity of 220,000t of ferronickel, which contains 53,000t tonnes of nickel.

Vale’s director of South Atlantic base metal operations Ricardo Carvalho said Onca Puma is the firm’s first nickel production plant in Brazil.

“It provides an example of the building of sustainable relations with communities in the municipalities in the area covered by the project,” added Carvalho.