Throughout 2017, news about Vale’s cutbacks in Thompson has been on the minds of many local residents, especially after their Birchtree facility was put on care and maintenance back in October.
In an attempt to quell concerns about where the company is headed, Mark Scott, the vice-president of Vale’s Manitoba Operations, attended the Dec. 13 Thompson Chamber of Commerce meeting to provide an overview of the challenges the company will be facing in the new year.
Throughout his presentation, Scott made no bones about the continued work force reductions that will be coming to Vale at the end of 2017 and once the smelter and refinery closes down in the third quarter of 2018.
“We’re going to go from 1,300 [workers] right now to 1,180 on Jan. 1,” he said. “And by the end of next year we’ll be at 807 with about a 30 person reclamation crew, so it will be 837, total, by the end of 2018.”
However, Scott was adamant about how the company is taking steps to cushion the blow as much as possible. Outside of adding a concrete load-out facility to the existing mill building, they also initiated a 20 per cent “breakthrough challenge” to help cut down on costs.
“We’ve laid down the gauntlet for ourselves for the next nine months or so and we’ve challenged ourselves to come up with another 20 per cent improvement in our unit costs,” he said. “So that can be a combination of spending reductions or productivity in production or total output improvements.”