(Repeats story published late Friday; no changes to text)
By Stephen Eisenhammer
RIO DE JANEIRO May 16 Brazilian mining giant
Vale said on Friday it plans to close its Integra
coal mine in Australia because it is losing money, the latest in
company efforts to row back from non-core overseas assets.
The decision comes as Vale and rivals BHP Billiton
and Rio Tinto come under pressure from investors to cut
costs and streamline businesses to better weather a period of
lower commodity prices.
Vale Chief Executive Officer Murilo Ferreira had previously
said it was looking to sell a 15 to 25 percent stake in its coal
operations. He added, though, that he did not expect that any
mines would be closed.
Vale's plans will end output from the Integra mine but keep
the project under "care and maintenance," a status that allows
the mine to be reopened quickly if economic conditions make
operations viable again.
The closure underlines the difficult environment for coal
miners. The price of thermal coal fell 40 percent in
the last three years as coal supply remained robust and demand
fell in Europe and China.
Vale lost $480 million on its coal business in 2013.
Local Australian media reported 500 people had been laid off
at Integra as a result of the closure.
The Integra complex, located in the state of New South Wales
in eastern Australia, produces about 4.5 million tonnes of coal
per year from both its underground and open cut mine. The mine
produces both metallurgical coal used in steelmaking and
thermal, or "steam" coal, used to generate electricity.
Vale owns 61.5 percent of Integra with the rest of the mine
being owned by a group of Asian manufacturers, steelmakers and
power companies, including Japan's Toyota Industries Corp
, South Korean steelmaker Posco and Japanese
steelmakers JFE Holdings Inc and Nippon Steel.
(Additional reporting by Henning Gloystein in London; Editing
by Jeb Blount and Marguerita Choy)