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Vale invests in air quality

Published by Steve Coleman on February 16, 2012

The nickel belt is getting a shine.

Vale announced Thursday that it has approved a $2 billion investment in its Sudbury operations to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions to well below provincial standards.

The company's "Clean AER Project" - atmospheric emissions reduction - is expected to reduce emissions a further 70 per cent from the current levels. The company says it has cut sulphur dioxide 90 per cent since it first started working on re-greening the Sudbury area in 1970.

"This project is an important undertaking and will utilize the latest technological innovations available to us to retrofit our smelter complex," said John Pollesel, Chief Operating Officer, Vale Canada Limited and Director of Base Metals for Vale's North Atlantic operations in a news release. "We are creating a new legacy through this project - cleaner air for Sudbury, Ontario and Canada. It's a proud day and great news for all of us who work, live and raise families in this wonderful community."

Vale has spent $10 0-million on research and development in the last four years preparing for final project approval.

Project Director Dave Stefanuto says the Clean AER Project will be huge in both scope and logistical execution.

"During the overhaul, the smelter will continue to operate regularly," said Stefanuto. "We have already put a lot of time, energy, and resources into planning to ensure safety and efficiency and now we're ready to begin construction."

Vale says the retrofit will require about eight million hours of additional labour, with 1,300 workers on-site during peak construction.

The 70% reduction in sulphur dioxide emissions at Vale's Sudbury operations will put Vale well below government-regulated emissions limits by 2015 - 45 kilotonnes per year versus the regulatory limit of 66 kilotonnes per year. The project will also reduce emissions of dust and metals by 35-40 per cent over current levels.

The $2-billion investment is a clear indication that Sudbury and Canada are important contributors to Vale's future, said Pollesel.

"Once all the research was complete, this was an easy decision," he said. "It is the right thing to do as a company and the right thing to do for our employees and the local community to ensure the long-term sustainability of our operations. Sudbury has already earned a reputation for innovation in mining and environmental reclamation. The Clean AER Project promises to add another historic milestone to that success."

Construction will begin in April with site preparation work. It's estimated work will continue until sometime before the end of 2015.

In 2010, Vale announced a five-year, $10 billion investment program to enhance and expand its Canadian operations. About $3.4 billion will be spent on modernizing Vale's Sudbury Operations, including the Clean AER Project.

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