Clean air project sparks interest – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – November 23, 2011)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

A computer game called Minecraft, in which players place blocks to build anything you can imagine, has piqued the interest of a Grade 8 student who now wants to be a miner when he grows up.

Brian Lepage, 13, was part of a group of students from Copper Cliff Public School who attended the annual open house of Vale Ltd. at the Copper Cliff Club on Tuesday. Lepage said he has always been interested in minerals and mining so he loves the game and wants to have a career in the mining field.

He was excited about attending the mining giant’s community event. “I’ve found a couple of minerals myself,” said Lepage, “pyrite and silver or copper.” The teenager said he’s “one of those people” who wants to see how gold, nickel and other minerals are mined.

Lepage was among dozens of area residents expected to attend the open house. Last year’s open house attracted 150 visitors and Vale spokeswoman Angie Robson said the company was expecting more to attend this year.

Many attending were Vale employees. Some were residents who wanted to know about two projects Vale has in the works — its $2-billion Clean AER (Atmospheric Emissions Reduction) project and its application to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment for a site-specific reduced standard for sulphur dioxide emissions until the AER project is complete.

Vale’s Sue Tessier, AER program manager, said the AER is in the final planning stages and will soon be submitted to Vale’s board of directors for approval.

Robson said that approval is expected by the end of this year.

Tessier, a Sudbury native who studied metallurgical engineering at Laurentian University, said it is exciting to be involved in a project that will benefit her city environmentally and economically.
“This kind of brings everything together,” said Tessier. “And for me, because I’m local, my kids live here, I want to see the future of the smelter as something that’s continuing.”

Vale has already spent $100 million on planning, research development and some of the engineering for the AER project. Essentially, the project will retrofit the Copper Cliff smelter so it produces 85% less sulphur dioxide emissions by 2015.

When the project is complete, Vale will have a total annual emission output of 45 kilotonnes, which will be well below the ministry’s 66-kilo-tonne standard, said Robson.

“Twenty years ago, if you told people where they would be, they would have laughed. They would have said, ‘It’s never, ever going to happen.’ ”

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