RIO DE JANEIRO (Dow Jones) -- Brazilian mining company Vale SA (VALE, VALE5.BR) said Thursday it may spend more than the $21.4 billion it is scheduled to invest this year, more than half of which will be for bringing new projects into production.
Additional projects could even be included in the investment program, directors said on a conference call with analysts.
"We're having a much better performance on spending this year," said Vale's chief financial officer Tito Martins. "It could go above the budgeted capex expenditure for 2012."
In 2011 Vale invested $16.4 billion, well below the $24 billion originally announced for the year, due to difficulties in obtaining environmental licenses, manpower and setting up new projects, Martins said in January.
In November 2011, Vale announced plans to invest $12.9 billion on developing projects in 2012, including in iron ore, copper, coal and fertilizers, with the rest of the programmed budget to go towards research and development and maintaining existing projects.
"We could now have some small additional projects investments," said capital projects director Ghalib Chaim on the call.
Current investments including in the 40 million metric tons a year iron-ore mine-capacity expansion in Carajas, the offshore port in Sao Luis, Brazil, copper mine Salobo which is due to start up next month, the start of coal production in Mozambique, a railroad construction in Malawi and the stockyard center in Malaysia are all "going very well," Chaim said.
Ferrous and strategies executive director Jose Carlos Martins added Vale expects to be able to command higher prices for its iron ore because of the Malaysia stockyard, which will facilitate and speed sales of the steelmaking ingredient to Asian customers. China is currently Vale's biggest iron ore customer, having taken 47.2% of its iron ore in the first quarter.
'We're far from the market," Martins said. The stockyard, which may house around 2 million metric tons of iron ore, allows Vale to postpone sales and sell closer to the market, he said. "We expect to get a better price realization as we move closer to the market," he said.
-By Diana Kinch, Dow Jones Newswires; 55 21 2586 6086; firstname.lastname@example.org