Vale’s Sudbury, Canada, operations are set for an 85% reduction in sulphur dioxide emissions after the Brazil-based company completed its C$1 billion ($792 million) Clean AER (Atmospheric Emission Reduction) project.
The project is the largest single environmental investment in Sudbury’s history and, on top of the sulphur dioxide emission cut, will also see metal particulate emissions come down 40%, according to Vale.
Work began on the project in 2012 and included the construction of two new converters, a wet gas cleaning plant, a new secondary baghouse and fan building and reconstruction of the smelter converter flues. Due to close coordination between the project and operations, this construction took place safely while the Copper Cliff smelter continued to operate.
Ricus Grimbeek, Chief Operating Officer of Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals Operations and Asian Refineries, said: “The completion of our Clean AER project is a historic milestone that demonstrates how far we have come as a company in reducing our environmental footprint.”
Emissions are set to come down so significantly with the project that Vale’s Sudbury operations will no longer require its iconic “Superstack”, according to Dave Stefanuto, Vale’s Vice President of North Atlantic Projects.
The Superstack is the tallest chimney in Canada and the Western hemisphere, measuring in at 380 m. It entered full operation in 1972.
Two new 137 m stacks are currently being constructed in the Copper Cliff smelter, which will require far less energy to operate than the Superstack and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the smelter by some 40%, Vale said. Following construction of the concrete shells, steel liners will be installed in the new stacks in 2019.
In 2020, the Superstack’s steel liner will be removed and the Superstack will be taken out of service and placed on care and maintenance. It is expected that removal of the concrete shell will begin thereafter and continue over several years.
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.