Vale — the second largest nickel producer in the world — plans to begin looking for nickel this year on the Melville Peninsula near Repulse Bay, Nunavut.

Vale is proposing a five-year prospecting and drilling program, with a camp of 30 people.

Tom Hoefer, executive director of the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines, says it’s an exciting development to see another major player come to Nunavut.

"Lots of people are used to seeing junior companies doing a lot of that work and then selling it off to majors when they find something," he said.

 Terence Ortslan, an independent mining analyst who watches Vale, says the company is eager to find new opportunities, after buying Canadian giant Inco a few years ago.

"Vale has been very busy with operations in Sudbury and Thompson, Man., as well as Newfoundland, and the exploration has been not too aggressive."

The company has submitted its plan to Nunavut regulators. If it's approved, work will begin later this spring.