Vale approves $2B clean air project in Sudbury – by Peter Koven (National Post – February 16, 2012)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Mining giant Vale SA has greenlighted a massive $2-billion emissions reductions project in Sudbury, Ont., that ranks among the biggest environmental investments in Ontario’s history.

The so-called Clean AER project (for Atmospheric Emissions Reduction) will be unveiled Thursday after years of anticipation in the region. The goal is to reduce sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions from Vale’s nickel smelter by 70%, bringing them well below government-regulated limits that come into effect in 2015.

“It was really felt that these are core assets to our company and to our future, and we have to maintain those assets,” project director Dave Stefanuto said in an interview. “So I don’t think it was too difficult a decision for our executives to make with respect to funding the project.”

The project will create plenty of economic activity in Sudbury, as it requires an estimated eight million man-hours of labour and as many as 1,300 workers onsite during the peak construction period.

“It’s going to bring in huge economic benefits for our community. It’s only supposed to run for two years, but at the end of the day our air will be even cleaner,” said Sudbury Mayor Marianne Matichuk.

Clean AER forms part of a proposed $10-billion Canadian investment plan Vale announced in 2010. Vale is using it as evidence it is committed to Sudbury, after going through some turbulent times in the region over the past few years.

Brazil-based Vale became the dominant nickel miner in the Sudbury Basin in 2006, when it acquired Inco Ltd. for nearly $20-billion.
When the global recession struck in 2008 and 2009, the company laid off hundreds of workers and shut down or delayed projects. The move drew plenty of criticism from economic nationalists who opposed the Inco transaction.

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