Following six years of construction efforts, Vale Canada Ltd.’s $1 billion Atmospheric Emissions Reduction (AER) Project has reached completion in Sudbury, Ontario.
For the mining giant, which remains the world’s largest producer of nickel, the AER Project means achieving an 85% reduction in sulphur dioxide emissions at Vale’s Copper Cliff smelter, and a 40% reduction in metal particulate emissions. These reductions are the result of work from some 550 construction workers, who in 2012 set out to construct two new converters, a wet gas cleaning plant that captures the sulphur dioxide emissions, a new secondary baghouse and fan building that act like a giant vacuum cleaner for the metal particulate emissions, as well as reconstruct the smelter converter flues. (View more photos of the upgrades here).
The construction involved nearly 21,000 m3 of concrete, equivalent to half of Toronto’s CN Tower. The project also used more than 6,500 tonnes of steel, roughly equivalent to 90% of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
“Emissions are so significantly reduced by the Clean AER Project that we will no longer require our iconic Superstack,” said Dave Stefanuto, Vale’s Vice President of North Atlantic Projects, in a statement to media. “The eventual decommissioning of the Superstack is a symbol of environmental progress for our company and the mining industry as a whole,” he added.
Two new 137-metre stacks are currently being constructed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Vale’s Copper Cliff Smelter by approximately 40%. Following construction of the concrete shells, steel liners will be installed in the new stacks in 2019, and in 2020, the Superstack’s steel liner will be decommissioned and the Superstack will be taken out of service. The company said it expects that the removal of the concrete shell will begin thereafter and continue over several years.
“In a generation, Sudbury has gone from the pollution capital of Canada to one of the most innovative mining clusters in the world, pioneering the technology that is building and sustaining the next generation of mines,” announced Paul Lefebvre, Sudbury MP and the Parliamentary Secretary for Natural Resources. “Sudbury is a shining example that a strong economy and healthy environment go hand in hand, and Vale continues to lead by example,” he added.
Vale’s operations in Sudbury are home to one of the largest integrated mining complexes in the world with five mines, a mill, a smelter and a nickel refinery.
Click here for more information on the Atmospheric Emissions Reduction Project.