Brazil's Behemoth

Vale do Rio Doce, once a state-owned slacker, has played the commodities boom brilliantly

Cia de Foto for TIME

Vale's iron-ore mine in São Gonçalo do Rio Abaixo, Brazil, is one of the world’s largest

Few companies offer a more stunning testimonial to the benefits of privatization--and fortuitous timing--than the formerly state-owned Brazilian mining firm Companhia Vale do Rio Doce. In the 55 years following its founding in 1942, Vale, as it is now known, grew into a comfortably large domestic player. Since being unshackled from Brazil's state bureaucracy in 1997, Vale has soared into the ranks of global-commodities powerhouses, with net income rising from $680 million in 2002 to $9.2 billion in the first nine months of 2007, placing it as one of the top-three diversified mining and metals firms in the world. The industry has become...

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