NEWS RELEASE: Vale Base Metals Greenhouse Celebrates 50th Anniversary (June 7, 2024)

Sudbury, June 07, 2024 – Yesterday in Copper Cliff, representatives from Vale Base Metals and the community joined to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Vale Base Metals’ greenhouse. Over its long history, the greenhouse has been responsible for growing approximately 5 million seedlings within the City of Sudbury.

The Greenhouse opened on February 14, 1974, to provide a space to house tropical plants for use in displays and temperate plants for indoor and outdoor use. It also helped facilitate agricultural research, including studies on the effects of chemical growth on tailings and the germination of legumes for use in land reclamation.

Mike Peters is the Caretaker of the Greenhouse and although he is retired, Mike continues to volunteer and donate his time and expertise. The Greenhouse’s rich history is largely linked to Mike as he helped make the facility a huge success from its earliest days.

During the late 1970s, the Greenhouse gained prominence in the Sudbury community. “For about four or five years, we were having Christmas shows at the greenhouse,” Mike recalled. “The local community would tour the greenhouse and we even decorated it for the occasion.”

In the 1980s, Mike supported the implementation of Inco’s first underground greenhouse, growing plants at a depth of 4,600 feet (about half the height of Mount St. Helens!) in Creighton Mine. (Inco was acquired by Vale in 2007.) These plants were able to grow throughout the winter using the mine’s natural heat, growing 60,000 to 100,000 seedlings a year for three years.

In the 1990s, Mike began running the greenhouse and its focus shifted from housing office plants to cultivating tree seedlings. However, regreening had already begun in 1978 with the intent of using trees to cover tailings and prevent dust from blowing. Regreening efforts have since expanded.

Up until the mid-1990’s, employees and students were involved in tree planting in the North Mine and Clarabelle Mill areas. By the late 1990’s, the company had worked with local regreening experts to establish a new process that used agricultural aircraft to drop lime, fertilizer, and grass seed onto industrially stressed land, greatly increasing the regreening efficiency and enabling the company to treat areas which would otherwise be inaccessible. This program is still in place and is responsible for treating over 10,000 acres of land in the Sudbury Basin.

The greenhouse hit a major milestone in 1994 when the 1 millionth tree was planted. Canada’s then Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, visited the Garson Arena where an event was held to mark the occasion.
In the same year, the greenhouse underwent many improvements. A seeder conveyor was added to improve the efficiency of seeding on the ground and the watering process became more automated, thanks to innovations such as rolling benches and upgraded watering systems.

Improvements continue to be made to support restoration efforts and local communities. Around 2012, several initiatives were implemented, including the establishment of a community garden, apiaries – place where bees are kept, and fish hatcheries.


Roughly 30 individual bee hives are maintained at two locations at Copper Cliff. Two hives are kept at the greenhouse while the others are in a regreened area within the Copper Cliff Smelter Complex footprint. In 2023, more than 500 pounds of honey was harvested and donated to a local food bank in Port Colborne.
Fish Hatcheries

Vale’s Fish Farm program is responsible for releasing more than 100,000 fish into local water bodies. The hatchery receives young fish from local suppliers as “fry” (2-4 cm in length), which are matured to “fingerlings” (10 – 15 cm) prior to release. Most of these fish are either Speckled or Rainbow Trout. As required by provincial regulation, Vale Base Metals works closely with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to select appropriate release sites for the fish.

About Vale Base Metals

Vale Base Metals, the holding entity for Vale’s energy transition metals business, is one of the world’s largest producers of high-quality nickel and an important producer of copper and responsibly sourced cobalt. With a corporate presence in Toronto, Canada, and operations in Newfoundland & Labrador, Ontario, Manitoba, Indonesia, Brazil, the UK and Japan, the business delivers critical building blocks for a cleaner, greener future.

Media Relations Office – Vale