TORONTO: Global mining company Vale today revealed a five-year, $10-billion investment program in its Canadian operations.
The program combines projects underway with projects yet to begin and follows a review of Vale’s Canadian operations’ efficiencies, aging infrastructure, environmental performance and sustainability.
“The investment program we’re pursuing is an indicator of the bright future we see for Vale in Canada,” said Tito Martins, CEO of Vale Canada and executive director, Base Metals for Vale. “The dollars invested here will improve environmental performance, unlock new market opportunities, increase efficiencies and strengthen our global competitiveness for years to come.”
Martins noted that in addition to the direct benefits to Vale’s operations, the project’s should generate significant economic opportunities for communities and suppliers over the next five years.
Key components of the investment program include:
Approximately $3.4 billion is slated to upgrade mining and processing facilities at the century-old operations in Sudbury. These upgrades will make the facilities more efficient and significantly reduce atmospheric emissions by 2015.
The Clarabelle Mill in Sudbury will see $200 million to change the flowsheet and improve recoveries by approximately three per cent. This includes construction of a brand new building at the current site and a new floatation system. Engineering work is underway completion expected in 2012.
Vale is completing its $360 million investment in Totten Mine. Located west of the Sudbury, production should begin in late 2011. It has an expected lifespan of approximately 20 years and will employ roughly 130 people.
The Atmospheric Emissions Reduction project is the most significant environmental investment ever contemplated in the Sudbury Basin. At a cost of $1.5 to $2 billion, the project will reduce emissions of sulphur dioxide more than 80 per cent over current levels. The project is in the feasibility stage, with construction expected to begin in early 2012 and be completed in late 2015.
In an effort to grow its copper production, an aggressive exploration drilling program is underway in the Victor and Capre properties in Sudbury. Combined, the mining studies and exploration expenditures in the Sudbury Basin represent an investment of more than $50 million in 2011.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Previously announced expenditures of approximately $2.8 billion are being made to build new processing facilities in Long Harbour, N.L., scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2013. It will process nickel concentrate produced at the Voisey’s Bay mine in Labrador. Some 500 permanent jobs will be created upon completion.
This plant will use hydrometallurgy (hydromet) technology developed and tested by Vale in Canada in a $200 million research and development effort. Once in operation, the Long Harbour plant will be the first nickel processing plant in the world to process concentrate from nickel sulphide ore directly into finished nickel product.
Vale is focusing its efforts in Thompson, Manitoba on developing new sources of ore as it transitions its operations to mining and milling with the phasing out of smelting and refining by 2015.
Vale’s fertilizers business is evaluating a $2.5 to $3 billion potash development project in Saskatchewan. The project is currently in the “pre-feasibility” stage. Witht he potential to create up to 500 jobs once in operation, the project is targeting production of 2.9 million metric tons of potash per year. Board approval is expected in 2012.