Emissions to be reduced to the point that the Superstack will no longer be required
SUDBURY, January 24, 2017 – Due to the significant reduction of atmospheric emissions at Vale’s operations in Sudbury, Ontario, today Vale announced its plans to take the iconic 1,250 foot (381 metre) Superstack out of service by the second quarter of 2020. The Superstack will be replaced with two smaller and more efficient 450 foot (137 metre) stacks.
“We are proud to be reducing emissions to a point where the Superstack is no longer required,” said Stuart Harshaw, Vice-President of Vale’s Ontario Operations. “Taking the Superstack out of service is a great symbol of how far Vale has come in terms of shrinking our environmental footprint and making Greater Sudbury a better place to work and live.”
The two smaller and more efficient stacks will require far less energy to operate than the Superstack, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Vale’s Copper Cliff Smelter by approximately 40%. At the same time, Vale’s Clean AER Project will reduce particulate emissions by 40% and dramatically reduce SO2 emissions by 85%.
By changing to two smaller and more efficient stacks, natural gas consumption is estimated to drop by nearly half, from 94 million cubic metres per year to 48 million cubic metres per year. This savings is equivalent to the average fuel consumption of approximately 17,500 homes, or approximately 1/3 of all the households in Greater Sudbury.
Construction of the two new stacks will begin in early 2017 and will take approximately two years to complete. The Superstack will be placed into care and maintenance mode in the second quarter of 2020 as extensive study is conducted to determine the best way to safely and carefully demolish its concrete shell. There is no immediate need for the shell to be demolished and it is expected to remain a part of the Sudbury skyline for several years to come.
Reaction to Vale’s Superstack Announcement:
“Congratulations to Vale for continuing to invest in emissions-reducing technology, and in Sudbury. Sudbury has led the way in showing the world that sustainable mining operations and living in a healthy city can go hand in hand, and Vale’s investment in the Clean AER project is a perfect example of that continued leadership.”
– Paul Lefebvre, Member of Parliament for Sudbury
“Today, we celebrate the life of the iconic Vale ‘Superstack’ which for over 40 years has been diverting by-product from the mineral smelting process away from Greater Sudbury, and in doing so, keeping the Greater Sudbury area such a pristine and beautiful place to live, work, and play. I’m quite confident that Vale’s decision to retire the ‘Superstack’ represents the beginning of a new era for Greater Sudbury—one that is more innovative, environmentally-friendly, and prosperous for all.”
– Marc Serré, Member of Parliament for Nickel Belt
“The superstack has been a fixture of Sudbury’s skyline for 5 decades. But as energy minister, this is terrific news for our community. We are going to see a major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions along with significant energy savings. I want to congratulate Vale for being part of Ontario’s plan for a cleaner and safer environment.”
– Glenn Thibeault, Ontario Energy Minister and MPP for Sudbury
“I commend Vale Canada on their Clean Atmospheric Emission Reduction Project that will significantly reduce the amount of sulphur dioxide emissions. We have been and will continue to work closely with Vale Canada to ensure cleaner air for residents of Greater Sudbury.”
– Glen Murray, Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change
“By reducing emissions at their Sudbury operations, Vale has shown its commitment to protecting the environment and ensuring that their operations are sustainable,” Our government continues to work with our partners in the sector, like Vale, to reinforce Ontario’s position as a global leader in sustainable mineral development.”
– Michael Gravelle, Ontario Minister of Northern Development and Mines
“This is incredible news for our community,” said “Not only is this the single largest environmental investment in our City’s history, but proof of how Vale is working with our community to move forward in improving our environment and making operations sustainable and safer for the long-term.”
– Brian Bigger, Mayor of the City of Greater Sudbury
“The Ontario Mining Association, through its member companies, is committed to reaching a goal of zero harm, zero waste and zero carbon for mining in the province. Vale’s historic announcement today underlines the progress that is being made in our sector and we congratulate Vale and all of its employees on the step change that has been accomplished.”
– Chris Hodgson, President, Ontario Mining Association
“The Superstack has been a symbol in our community for the past few decades. The USW local 6500 are pleased to see the reduction of emissions in our atmosphere which will be a positive impact to our environment.”
– Rick Bertrand, President, United Steelworkers, Local 6500
“Where there’s a will to cut greenhouse gases there are creative engineers and new technology to do it …. and to write another chapter in Sudbury’s environmental story too. Bravo !”
– Dr. David Pearson, Climate Change Adaptation, School of the Environment Science Communication Graduate Program Laurentian University
“In the 1970s and 1980s the iconic image of the Superstack, the world’s tallest smoke stack at the time, was often used as evidence of the willingness of a company or a country to pollute the global atmosphere, simply to solve a local problem. Decommissioning it speaks boldly of how far environmental protection efforts have come and how attitudes have changed. I hope Sudbury’s improvements can now be effectively used as a new global example, this time of the benefits of working together to reduce greenhouse gases and other serious pollutants.”
– Dr. John Gunn, Canada Research Chair in Stressed Aquatic Systems, Laurentian University
“With this investment in sustainability Vale is has shown that mining companies can take the lead in building the low-carbon economy. We are excited to see the impact this will have on Sudbury’s environmental profile. We hope it will inspire other businesses large and small to measure and manage their own emissions.”
– Rebecca Danard – Executive Director, reThink Green
For further information, contact:
Manager, Corporate & Aboriginal Affairs
Vale Canada Limited, Ontario Operations
Vale’s Iconic Superstack: History and Key Facts
Construction of the Superstack began in 1970 at a cost of $25 million and entered into full operation in 1972. The Superstack was built to disperse sulphur gases and other byproducts of the smelting process away from the City of Sudbury.
The Superstack is 1,250 feet (381 metres) high, the tallest chimney in the western hemisphere and the second largest in the world. It is also the second tallest freestanding structure of any type in Canada, behind the CN Tower.
The Superstack is 35 metres wide at the bottom with 1 metre thick walls. At the top it is 16 metres wide with 25 cm thick walls. It has 937 tonnes tons of reinforcing steel buried in its concrete shell and a stainless steel liner that weighs 17585 tonnes.
Following completion of the stack’s concrete shell, a top-to-bottom vertical steel ladder was installed inside with rest platforms for maintenance.
There is a steel flue system to carry gases from Vale’s Copper Cliff Smelter to the Superstack. This system currently carries gases travelling at a top speed of more than 85 kilometres per hour and at a maximum temperature of 390 degrees Celsius.
Construction of the Superstack was followed by environmental reclamation projects across the City of Greater Sudbury including the liming and seeding of more than 3,200 hectares as well as the planting of approximately 300,000 trees annually.
What does the Superstack mean to you? Please share your memories, thoughts, photos and stories with us at [email protected] We may include your comments in future public communication materials.
Superstack Announcement: Questions & Answers
Q: What is happening to the Superstack?
A: A decision has been made to take the Superstack out of service by the first quarter of 2020. It will be replaced by two smaller and more efficient 450 foot (137 metre) stacks.
Q: Why has this decision been made?
A: Due to the significant reduction in emissions Vale is making through its $1 billion Clean AER Project, Vale has made a decision that the Superstack will not be required in the future because it will no longer be fit for purpose from both an environmental and operational perspective.
Q: What are the environmental benefits of using two smaller stacks?
A: With two smaller and more efficient stacks, Vale will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 40% from 270 kilotonnes (kT) to 150 kT annually by the time the project is complete. At the same time, Vale’s Clean AER Project will also reduce particulate emissions by 40% and dramatically reduce SO2 emissions by 85%.
Q: How will greenhouse gases be reduced through this decision?
A: By changing to two smaller and more efficient stacks, natural gas consumption is estimated to drop by nearly half, from 94 million cubic metres per year to 48 million cubic metres per year. To put this volume of natural gas into perspective, this reduction is equivalent to the annual fuel requirements of approximately 17,500 homes, or 1/3 of all households in the City of Greater Sudbury.
Q: What are the energy and maintenance savings associated with taking the Superstack out of service?
A: The Superstack costs $3-5 million to maintain annually and natural gas expenses are expected to be reduced by approximately 50%.
Q: When will the Superstack be taken out of service?
A: The Superstack will cease operation in the first quarter of 2020. The inner steel liner will be removed soon after it ceases operation to mitigate anticipated corrosion.
Q: How and when will the Superstack be demolished?
A: The Superstack will be placed into care and maintenance mode as an extensive study is conducted to determine the best way to safely and carefully demolish the concrete shell of the Superstack. There is no immediate need for the shell to be demolished and it is expected to remain a part of the Sudbury skyline for several years to come.
Q: Will you use explosives to demolish the Superstack?
A: Given the Superstack’s proximity to the Smelter, explosives will not be used to demolish the Superstack. Extensive study will be conducted to determine the best way to safely and carefully demolish the concrete shell.
Q: When will construction begin on the two new stacks?
A: Construction on the two new stacks is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2017 and is expected to be complete in December 2019.
Q: Why will there be two stacks instead of one?
A: Two stacks is a more optimal design than one because each can be located closer to gas sources within the operation, which is more energy efficient and cost effective.