Sudbury

Vale smelter upgrades on track for 2018, Clean AER manager says

Sudbury mining giant Vale says its Clean AER project is now 55 per cent complete.
Vale is still trying to decide whether it wants to keep the Sudbury Superstack. A view from the top of the Sudbury, Ont. Superstack, 380 metres in the air. (Drone Malone/YouTube)

Sudbury mining giant Vale says its Clean AER project is now 55 per cent complete.

Upgrades to the smelter are required to bring the company in-line with the province's updated air quality standards for nickel. They are expected to be finished in 2018.

Once smelter upgrades are complete, the company will greatly reduce sulphur dioxide emissions, said David Marshall, project manager of the mining company's Clean AER project. AER stands for atmospheric emissions reduction.

"This year we'll be around 150,000 tonnes," he said.

"When we finish the Clean AER project, that will be reduced to 20,000 tonnes a year."

Vale's sulphur dioxide emission targets were set more than a decade ago, and the mining company has been granted years of extensions by the Ministry of the Environment, after failing to meet targets.

"We have a lot of work ahead of us. We spent roughly $625 million on the Clean AER project and the surface facilities upgrade work," Marshall continued.

"With the completion of the project we'll reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by about 40 per cent from where we are today."

Meanwhile, Vale is still considering whether it will need to keep its iconic Superstack, once the upgrades are complete.

"There's a recommendation out of the studies to move towards some new stacks," Marshall said.

"The operation of our future with the two integrated projects — Clean AER and the surface facilities upgrade — brought into question the future of the 1,250 foot stack."

The Superstack has marked Sudbury's skyline since it was built by the Sudbury miner INCO in 1970 to reduce environmental degradation in the city and dissipate gasses like S02 the fumes from the smelter. INCO was purchased by Vale in 2006.

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