NEW YORK Brazilian miner
Vale SA is planning to operate only one of the two furnaces at
its Copper Cliff smelter in Sudbury, Ontario, starting in 2016
as it looks to cut costs.
"Changes in our asset footprint,
such as the commissioning of our Long Harbour project in
Newfoundland, together with decisions to optimize and
redistribute the flow of raw materials, have made the move from
a two-furnace operation to a single-furnace operation at our
Copper Cliff smelter the next logical step for the business," a
spokesman told AMM in an e-mail, adding that the
change is not expected to affect total refined nickel output
from the companys Sudbury operations.
The change follows an
announcement last year that Vale was reviewing its base metals
business due to volatile market conditions and operating cost
challenges affecting the overall mining sector.
The idling of one furnace will
significantly cut costs associated with the companys
previously announced Clean AER (atmospheric emissions
reduction) project at the site, which is now expected to cost
only $1 billion instead of $2 billion as previously
Vale announced in October it was
delaying the AER project due to cash issues (
amm.com, Oct. 16).
The company said it expects some
"minimal" short-term adjustment to its mine production in
Sudbury and expects some job losses at the smelter complex
long-term as a result. "We do expect that over the next several
years there will be fewer jobs in the smelter complex with a
change to a single furnace, but given the lead time we will
look for ways to minimize any impacts," the spokesman said.
Vales Sudbury operations
produced 50,000 tonnes of nickel during the first nine months
of 2012, according to the companys third-quarter