Vale expects to miss 2015 sulphur dioxide emissions target

Nickel giant Vale doesn't expect to meet its sulphur dioxide emission targets this year, a decade after they were set.

Company says it has some emissions credits banked from past improvements to its process

Consulting firm, Deloitte predicts digitization will have the biggest impact on the global mining industry in 2017. This 2015 picture shows technology at a Vale mining site in Sudbury, Ont. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

Nickel giant Vale doesn't expect to meet its sulphur dioxide emission targets this year, a decade after they were set.

Vale was granted a five-year extension, and has until the end of this year to get its annual emissions down to 66 kilotonnes.

The company reports it's currently emitting about 150 kilotonnes, but is aiming to be down to 20 kilotonnes by 2018 — when $1 billion worth of upgrades are completed at its Copper Cliff smelter.

"There's going to be a couple steps," said Dan Legrand, Vale's director of process technology.

"The big one will occur in 2018 when we start capturing all of the converter gas."

Vale has made other changes to its emissions process — racking up government credits that allow it to miss the emissions deadline without penalty.

The Ministry of the Environment is keeping a close watch.

"I think it's important that the company continue to work towards getting down to that 66 kilotonne limit," said ministry district manager Brian Cameron.

Meanwhile, the pressure is on for smelter operations support manager Mike Zanini, who's supervising the upgrades as smelting continues. 

"We like to use the analogy that it's like trying to do open heart surgery — still trying to produce and keep everything going through the plant, while trying to modernize and upgrade at the same time," he said.

That "surgery" is expected to continue until 2018, when Zanini said they expect "to have the majority of those emissions reductions delivered." 


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