Manitoba

Vale Manitoba operations to make case for $1-billion investment in Thompson mine

Vale’s Manitoba operations is planning to make the case for a $1-billion investment in their Thompson mine from the company’s headquarters, which could extend the mine’s life space by 25 to 30 years.

It's believed investment could expand mine's lifespan by 25 to 30 years

Vale's head of Manitoba operations says he believes that somewhere along the Thompson nickel belt is the equivalent of another mine “just waiting to be found.” (CBC)

The operators of the Vale nickel mine in Thompson, Man., are hoping a $1-billion investment could extend the mine's life span by 25 to 30 years.

Gary Eyres, head of Vale's Manitoba operations, said the mine's team has been stepping up its exploration efforts, including aerial and magnetic surveys, and believes there are large enough ore deposits to warrant the investment. 

Eyres says he's confident that somewhere along the Thompson nickel belt is the equivalent of another mine "just waiting to be found." 

They want to be able to present their case for it in the next six to 12 months to the company's owners in Brazil, Eyres said  

"Everything that I'm doing at the moment and our teams here in Thompson are doing at the moment, is we're focusing only on when this happens, rather than if it happens," he said. 

"We need to be positive about it and what we're doing is getting all of our existing assets into that condition so that we can we can begin immediately once we get approval."

The money would be invested in assets that would help enhance the mine's output, Eyres said.

If nothing is done, and the company continues with its current mining operations, it would have a much shorter life span, of about five to eight years, he said. 

"That's not something that we're we're even considering at the moment," he said. 

Reason for hope 

It's been a difficult few years for the community, as Vale ceased its nickel smelting and refining in Thompson last year, and laid off hundreds of employees. 

But right now, the company is in a position to hire roughly 30 more staff, and have been tapping some of those laid off, Eyres said. 

"And that's across the full gamut of an operation like us. You know whether it's tradespeople, whether it's skilled mining people, metallurgy, engineering — the full range of roles that they're looking for at the moment," he said. 

Though nothing is set in stone yet, Eyres said he's optimistic about the future of mining in Thompson. 

"We have the opportunity of creating a 25-to-30-year life in our existing mine, which in turn means that we've got probably another two generations of employment just with our known resources," he said. 

"So I want people to really be able to see this is great news for Thompson. This is a great opportunity for Thompson, and looking for our government and also our city to get behind us in creating the next future."

With files from Ramraajh Sharvendiran

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