Vale’s commitment to Sudbury exemplified with $2.7 billion investment: Strong – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – April 17, 2013)

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

Anyone who doubts the commitment of Vale to Sudbury need look no further than a spread sheet, according to a Vale executive.

The Brazil-based miner invested $2.7 billion in Sudbury from 2007-12 – equivalent to the cost of building eight hospitals the size of Health Sciences North.

Another way of look at it is this: $2.7 billion is the approximate net worth of Oprah Winfrey, Kelly Strong told an audience Tuesday at a luncheon sponsored by the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce.

Strong delivered the message 225 people wanted to hear – that Vale has a long and bright future in the Nickel City and intends to spend billions more here in the next few years.

Appointed vice-president of Ontario and U.K. operations by Vale in November, Strong gave his first major public speech at the luncheon. Sudbury can expect to hear more from the mining engineer turned executive, whose hometown is Espanola.

After an aggressive period of growth in which Vale aimed to become one of the biggest mining companies in the world, its corporate philosophy has changed.

It’s now focused more on running regional operations in which every dollar of value is squeezed out.

Several years ago, Vale upset local supply and service providers when it switched to a centralized purchasing and procurement system based in Toronto and Brazil.

Strong said Vale is reverting to a local purchasing and procurement system, “something we see as a big benefit to doing business here.”

When purchasing was centralized, Vale adopted a practice of paying its suppliers months after it received supplies or contracted services.

When asked if Vale would be paying local businesses more quickly with that function returning to Sudbury, Strong said: “I think that’s the goal.

“The goal is to be more efficient, you know, working with our business partners here in Sudbury and making sure we’re following what our procurement rules and norms are telling us we need to do.”

Strong said Vale will remain focused on containing the rising cost of operations so it can invest more in new ventures and update existing operations.

The amount of money Vale has spent in Sudbury since it purchased the former Inco speaks to the company’s commitment to the city, said Strong.

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