The coffers are going to be a bit lighter at Vale (NYSE:VALE) next year. The company announced that its board of directors has approved a total investment budget of $14.8 billion for 2014. This represents the third decline in a row for the mining company, from a peak of $18.0 billion in 2011.

Of that $14.8 billion, $9.3 billion has been allocated for project execution, $4.5 billion will be used to sustain existing operations, and $900 million is to be used for research and development.

In the press release announcing the news, Vale said the continued downsizing of the investment budget "reflects the greater focus on capital efficiency, which entails among other things pursuing shareholder value maximization through a smaller portfolio comprised of projects with a high risk-adjusted expected rate of return."

The more modest budget should help the company settle a $16 billion tax bill with the government of Brazil. Recently, the firm has been divesting assets in what is seen as attempts to raise cash for those expenses.

Fool contributor Eric Volkman has no position in Vale. The Motley Fool owns shares of Vale. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.