Vale's nickel processing plant in Long Harbour received its first major shipment from its Labrador mine in Voisey's Bay Monday.

Over 2,000 tonnes of nickel concentrate were delivered to the plant, marking the beginning of consistent large-scale delivery from the mine.

While a small proportion of the plant's raw materials currently come from Voisey's Bay, the majority are imported from Indonesia.

A spokesman for Vale said 100 per cent of the Long Harbour facility's production materials will come from Voisey's Bay by early 2016.

'This shipment marks an important milestone in our ramp-up of production at the plant.' - Bob Carter, Vale

"This shipment marks an important milestone in our ramp-up of production at the plant," said Vale spokesman Bob Carter.

The next shipment will be delivered this summer. Once all materials come from Labrador, the ship will make deliveries on an almost monthly basis, Carter explained.

The Long Harbour plant started production in July 2014, and employs roughly 700 people. At full production it will produce 50,000 tonnes of nickel per year, as well as copper and cobalt products.

Minister thanks Vale for commitments

Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley spoke about the milestone in the House of Assembly Wednesday.

He called the Voisey's Bay operation "one of the most substantial mineral discoveries in the country in the last 40 years."


The MV Umiak 1 is pictured at the dock in Long Harbour this week. (Submitted)

He thanked Vale for their commitment to the province and to "sustaining economic and employment benefits for many years to come."

The concentrate was delivered on an arctic class vessel specially built for Vale, called the MV Umiak 1. At full capacity, the ship will deliver up to 30,000 tonnes of materials on each journey.

Construction began on the $4.25US billion Long Harbour processing plant in 2009 and was completed two years behind the company's initial schedule.

The Voisey's Bay mine began operations in 2005 and employs about 450 people. Each day it produces 6,000 tonnes of nickel-cobalt-copper concentrate and copper concentrate.