When asked recently if he thought Sudbury could expect another five good years of mining, the answer Ricus Grimbeek gave was ‘no.’ It wasn’t, however, because the chief operating officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Operations feels activity will dry up sooner than that.
“I had my poker face on,” he told a crowd gathered for a Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Thursday. “I believe there’s an amazing future here in Sudbury for the next couple of decades, not just the next five years.”
Driving that confidence is an expected boom in electric vehicles, which require copper and nickel for their batteries. Grimbeek, who hails from South Africa but now lives in Sudbury, said part of the reason he joined Vale was the opportunity “to absolutely impact the climate-change work we need to do as a society.”
In 2018, there were two million electrical vehicles produced, he said, but over the next half-dozen years that number is expected to climb to 15 to 20 million. “There’s going to be an explosion in the need for nickel and for copper,” he said.
Vale actually mines more copper than nickel at present, he noted, but demand for the latter will grow considerably as more battery-powered cars are built and sold. “The beauty of the nickel that we produce is that it’s Class 1 nickel,” he said.
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