Vale’s massive $4.2 bn write-down on Onca Puma and Norsk Hydro stake – by Dorothy Kosich (Mineweb.com – December 21, 2012)

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After selling a majority stake of its bauxite and aluminum assets to Norsk Hydro 22 months ago, Vale is now taking a $4.2 billion write-down on its Hydro shares and its Onca Puma ferronickel ops.

RENO (MINEWEB) – Vale has decided to take a US$4.2 billion write-down on its Onça Puma ferronickel operation, along with the company’s aluminum assets, increasing its fourth-quarter write-downs to US$4.65 billion.

Issues with Onça Puma’s two smelters halted operations since June 2012. After analysis, Vale decided to rebuild one of the furnaces at an estimated cost of US$188 million in 2013 with start-up planned for the fourth quarter of 2013.

“Given this event and in the face of the current market environment for ferronickel, the valuation of Onça Puma determined the need to recognize an impairment charge before tax of $2.848 billion,” the company said Thursday in a news release. “The book value of Onça Puma was US$3.778 billion as of September 30, 2012.”

Meanwhile, Vale observed, “The downward volatility of aluminum prices and the macroeconomic uncertainties about the European economy have contributed to reduce the market value of our 22% stake in Norsk Hydro ASA, a Norwegian aluminum producer, to a level below the book value of our investment.” Norsk Hydro ASA is an aluminum and renewable energy company headquartered in Oslo, Norway.

The fourth largest aluminum company globally, Norsk Hydro ASA operates in 40 countries. The government of Norway still remains a substantial stake in Norsk Hydro ASA. Two days ago, Hydro replaced its CFO Jørgen C. Arentz Rostrup with longtime employee Eivind Kallevik.

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