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Vale cuts nickel output but is positive on long-term demand

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Brazilian miner Vale SA dialed back its nickel output forecasts for the next five years on Wednesday, although the world’s top producer of the metal praised its longer term prospects on likely soaring demand for electric cars.

Vale cut its nickel output estimate by 15 percent to 263,000 tonnes next year and said it was still seeking an investor for its New Caledonia nickel mine.

However, Vale wants to “preserve its nickel optionality” ahead of an expected boom in electric vehicles in the next decade, said Jennifer Maki, executive director of Vale’s base metals unit, at an annual investor presentation in New York.

The rechargeable batteries used in electric vehicles have companies scrambling to lock in supplies of key ingredients like nickel, cobalt and lithium.

Maki, who Vale said on Wednesday was leaving the company, pointed to market forecasts that electric vehicles would represent between 7 percent and 20 percent of the global auto market by 2025, up from 1 percent in 2017.

Vale Chief Executive Fabio Schvartsman agreed.

“I‘m very positive about nickel, much more positive than I was some months ago,” he said.

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