SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian President Michel Temer will not push to replace the head of the nation's largest mining company, Vale SA <VALE5.SA>, until the current executive's mandate expires in May, a local newspaper reported.

Temer has been seeking a replacement for Chief Executive Murilo Ferreira, who was the preferred choice of impeached former President Dilma Rousseff and is considered by Temer's camp to be too close to the previous administration.

But the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo reported at the weekend, without citing sources, that Temer will not try to force Ferreira's early exit after coming up against resistance from state pension funds that have seats on Vale's board.

Temer's office did immediately responded to requests for comment and Vale said it would not comment on the report.

A person with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters last month that Temer had met with the representative of an unnamed, major shareholder of Vale to discuss a potential change of command at the mining giant.

The same person, who was briefed on the discussion, said the company's controlling shareholders would only agree to a change of leadership next year, when Ferreira's term ends, and under a selection process conducted by an executive recruitment firm. 

The government move to replace Ferreira is controversial. Vale <VALE5.SA>, the world's largest producer of iron ore, is a private company that is supposedly free from state interference.

However, Ferreira's predecessor, Roger Agnelli, was pushed out during Rousseff's first term after the government exerted pressure through state pension funds.

The O Globo newspaper reported Sunday, without citing sources, that Temer's preferred candidate to replace Ferreira is Nelson Silva, head of strategy and management at state-run oil company Petrobras.

Petrobras' press team did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Reports earlier this year said Temer was being pressured to replace Ferreira by members of his party in the mining state of Minas Gerais, where Vale has large operations.

Vale has struggled in the face of slumping commodity prices and recorded its worst ever loss last year.

Its reputation was also damaged following the collapse of a tailings dam last November at the Samarco mine, owned by Vale SA and BHP Billiton. The accident killed 19 people and resulted in severe environmental damage across a wide swath of southeastern Brazil.

(Reporting by Brad Brooks and Guillermo Parra-Bernal, editing by Ros Russell)