Vale scales back [in Sudbury] – by Laura Stricker (Sudbury Star – January 11, 2013)

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

Vale announced Thursday it will slash spending on a massive pollution-reduction project in Sudbury, as it moves from a two-furnace to one-furnace operation at its Copper Cliff smelter.

“A move to a single furnace is years away, but preparation for this move will mean changes to the Clean AER Project in the immediate future,” Vale said in a statement. “The outcome of this move to a single furnace, combined with adjustments to the Clean AER Project, will be reductions in annual (sulphur dioxide) emissions more than 50% greater than contemplated in the original Clean AER plan, at approximately half the capital investment.”

The changes will see the cost of the Clean AER project reduced from $2 billion to $1 billion. The company’s operating costs will also be reduced, but by how much remains to be seen, said Angie Robson, Vale’s manager of corporate affairs.

“Vale has moved from what was once a growth strategy to really focus on generating value rather than production volume and also ensuring that each of our operations are self-sufficient and able to stand on our own two feet,” Robson said.

“Changes in our asset footprint, such as the commissioning of the Long Harbour project in Newfoundland, and decisions to optimize and redistribute some of the flow of our raw materials, have created conditions for moving from a two-furnace operation to a single-furnace operation for our smelter … We see it as the next logical step in our evolution here in Sudbury.”

Once the furnace change is implemented — which isn’t expected to happen before 2016 — there will be fewer positions at the smelter.

Vale is still uncertain of how many positions will be lost, Robson said.

That’s something Rick Bertrand, the president of United Steelworkers Local 6500, finds concerning.

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