Vale Ltd. moves ahead with $2-billion emissions reduction plan at Sudbury stack – by Hugh McKenna (Winnipeg Free Press – February 17, 2012)

The Canadian Press

TORONTO – Mining giant Vale Ltd. is moving ahead with a $2-billion plan to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions at its smelter in Sudbury, where the company’s so-called superstack has long been seen as a monument of industrial development and pollution.

The initiative, which the Brazilian-based company describes as the largest in the history of Ontario, and likely Canada, has a goal of slashing emissions at the smelter by 70 per cent over several years.

“This reduction is in addition to the 90 per cent reduction in sulphur dioxide emissions realized since 1970 and complements the ongoing success story that is the regreening of the Sudbury region,” Vale said in making the announcement Thursday.

The project, which is scheduled to start construction in April, is designed to put emissions below government mandated levels which take effect in 2015.

The target is to cut the stack’s emissions to 45 kilotonnes per year, compared with the regulatory limit of 66 kilotonnes a year. Dust and metals emissions are also expected to be reduced by 35 to 40 per cent.

“It is important that we put in the infrastructure to ensure the sustainability of Sudbury and the community,” said Vale project director Dave Stefanuto.

“We recognize that Sudbury has core assets and not only in terms of facilities but core assets in terms of people, resources and industry-leading expertise, so you know we really want to make sure that this investment is for the long haul.”

“I think we are pretty confident that we are going to meet or exceed dust emissions as well,” he added.

Vale has already spent about $100 million on the project over the past four years as it prepared for its final approval.

The company aims to wrap up construction by the end of 2015. It estimates that about 1,300 workers will be on site when the construction is at its peak, including about 100 from the Vale project team to oversee the project and another 100 working for the engineering consultants who have been hired.

The other 1,100 will be tradesmen — carpenters, boiler makers, mill wrights and labours — with the peak number on site in 2013.

“We plan on engaging as many of the local people (as possible) because they have experience within our facility already,” Stefanuto said.

The high cost of the project, which won’t alter the appearance of the 380-metre-tall superstack erected by the former Inco at a cost of just $25 million in 1972, is due to a number of factors.

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