August 2007

CVRD Inco stirs up the action in Sudbury

By C. Hersey

Recently, CVRD Inco has been steadily investing a lot more time and money in Sudbury, proving the nickel capital of the world still holds a lot of promise. Their exploration budget for the Sudbury Basin has increased over the past five years; they now spend over $19 million a year on exploration activities and an additional $14.6 million on drilling to support strategic studies. This is more than twice the amount spent in 2005 and nearly five times the amount spent in 2002. They’ve got a number of new capital projects (all in various stages of development) totalling millions of dollars worth of investment in Sudbury’s economy, not to mention the hundreds of job opportunities they’ve created and will create.

Totten

The newest and most talked about amidst Inco’s heap of projects is Totten. In May of this year, they announced their plans to invest $400 million to open the mine, with production expected to start in the third quarter of 2012, at a rate of 2,200 tonnes of copper/nickel ore per day. Totten will be the company’s first new mine in Sudbury in more than 35 years. In its construction stage, the mine is being welcomed by the people of Sudbury with open arms. Once things are up and running, 150 new permanent jobs will be created, and the company has already employed about 250 people to help with the development of the mine. This past year, they hired a person a day. The company also has a memorandum of understanding with the Nishnawbee Sagamok First Nations. The agreement entails that Inco provides possible employment opportunities for their people, and they hold regular meetings so people have a chance to voice any concerns or opinions. Totten has an expected life span of 20 years.

Copper Cliff North and South

The Copper Cliff North and South mines in Sudbury are most likely about to undergo some serious construction. Mining has reached existing shaft bottoms, causing operating costs to skyrocket, and thus the proposition of a new shaft has arisen. Feasibility studies were conducted to evaluate the possibility of a new 10,000 tonne per day hoisting plant and a shaft sunk to 5,600 feet, with the potential to deepen to 7,000 feet for exploration purposes. The much-anticipated new shaft would replace the current two maturing ones, with commissioning targeted for 2012. Copper Cliff North and South mines are part of the Copper Cliff Deep project, which has just received $46 million—$6.5 million to enable further feasibility studies and $38.5 million for early execution work. It could be in production as early as 2013 and should employ approximately 450 people during the construction phase. Copper Cliff Deep will connect the two existing mines and also move out towards identified ore bodies at Kelly Lake.

Garson Ramp Project (Garson Mine)

A plan to re-open the Garson Ramp (bordering Garson Mine) has finally been approved by CVRD Inco’s Board. The $30 million project is currently in the development stage of Phase One, and the project involves three ore bodies that will produce nickel, copper, and precious metals. Early production began in the fourth quarter of 2006 but at full throttle, it is expected to produce about 500 tonnes of ore a day.

Copper Separation

Another of Inco’s many projects, the Copper Separation project, is finally complete. The $52 million project aimed to take additional copper from bulk concentrate in order to make room for more nickel through the Copper Cliff smelter, thereby supporting their growth strategy in Sudbury. The process involves ore being milled and placed in one of nine flotation cells to separate the copper from the nickel. The cells then skim off 30 per cent of the copper concentrate that previously remained in the bulk copper-nickel concentrate sent to the smelter. With 30 per cent of the copper treated under a different process, this allows more room at the smelter for processing nickel. This investment will permit CVRD?Inco to sell an additional 165,000 tonnes of copper concentrate per year to Xstrata Copper. CVRD Inco’s vice president, Michael Winship, says that investing in local operations “not only benefits the company, but it also benefits our entire community. This copper separation process is another step towards new mining projects in our community, which translates into new jobs for our residents and attracts bright, talented individuals to our city.” He also adds that “with the help of this facility, we will be able to move more nickel through our smelter, accelerate mine development, and help create the prosperous, long-term future our employees and our community desire.”

CVRD Inco is embarking on the largest period of growth in Sudbury in over 30 years. With the above mentioned projects well underway, they’ve also got tons of investments in a range of other projects such as Kelly Lake, Creighton Deepening, Clarabelle Mill, and Coleman 170, to name a few. With all the money and effort put into each mine, the company also puts tremendous care and pride into a reduced environmental footprint. In October 2006, they opened their new, state-of-the-art $115 million facility to further reduce sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions in Sudbury by 34 per cent. CVRD Inco’s environmental department continuously works hand-in-hand with the project team to ensure things run in an eco-friendly fashion. They’re dedicated to the development of “new sources of ore to improve future reserves in Sudbury, while at the same time investing in productivity improvements across the operation in order to mine and process ore profitably in all future price cycles.” Now the number one nickel-producing company in the world, you can rest assured that CVRD Inco knows exactly what they’re doing when it comes to investing.

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