RIO DE JANEIRO, Mar. 18 -- Brazilian iron ore miner Vale SA (VALE, VALE5.BR) said its sales to Japan haven't so far been affected by earthquake-related problems in the country. Vale continues to conduct its activities in Japan, it said.
According to the information available, the impact on Japanese steelmakers has been limited, despite the magnitude of natural events, and most of them have resumed operations, Vale said in a statement Thursday.
In 2010, Vale's shipments of iron ore and pellets to Japan amounted to 30.8 million tons, equivalent to 10.5% of the total amount sold by the company. Vale currently has 56 ships waiting to be loaded at its ports, nine of which are destined for Japan, it said.
The company's nickel refinery in Matsuzaka, southern Japan, where 66 employees work, continues to operate normally, Vale said. At its commercial office in Tokyo, Vale has directed its employees to work from their homes or the homes of their relatives as a safety measure, due to the possibility of new seismic incidents, public transport problems and to save energy.
Vale has 21 employees at its office in Tokyo, of whom two are expatriates - one Brazilian and one Canadian. They continue to perform their duties, coordinating workers, and are in frequent contact with customers, the company said.
Vale said it will continue to operate in the country in this manner until the situation has normalized.
"Vale has been working together with Japanese steel manufacturers and its nickel refinery's customers to mitigate and overcome problems arising from the earthquake and tsunami," the company said in the statement. "The company has been supporting unconditionally its Japanese customers, offering complete flexibility in administering their shipment programs, enabling increases or decreases in volumes and changes in quality and product type, as well as redeploying ships."