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Air quality investment to hit $845m mark. (Special Report: Energy/Environment).

The City of Greater Sudbury's mining giant, Inco Ltd., announced in early December that it is beginning work on a $115-million project to further reduce sulphur dioxide emissions from its Copper Cliff operations by 34 per cent.

The project allows the company to meet new government-legislated emission requirements for 2006 which prohibits the company from emitting any more than 265 kilotonnes of sulfer dioxide annually. In particular, the project promises to lower the company's emissions from 265 kiotonnes annually to 175 kilotonnes annually by the end of 2006; but to Cory McPhee, the manager of government and public affairs at Inco, the project is really an investment in the future of the Sudbury region.

"This creates the ability for us to plan well into the future to have a presence here in Sudbury," he said. "This $115-million project is an investment right here in Sudbury, so that money is going to be spent locally. It is an investment in our Sudbury operations...I think it is a vote of confidence that we intend to be in Sudbury for the long-term."

"I find this to be just tremendous news," he added. "It is nice to see this type of investment that is a stake in the ground for us, in regards to future operations that will allow these new employees a long and productive career here."

The technology the company will be using to reduce the emissions is called fluid bed roaster (FBR) off-gas scrubbing technology. (The FBR plant at Inco is part of the smelting process in which nickel suiphide is roasted to make nickel oxide feed for carbonyl refining.)

The FBR project is actually made up of three parts. First, the existing acid plant will be expanded to handle clean sulphur dioxide from the new gas-scrubbing facility. Work is already underway on this phase of the project, but the completion of this phase is not expected until May of 2003.

The second phase of the project is the creation of a weak acid treatment plant at the Copper Cliff mill filter plant to replace the current flash furnace slime system and to allow for the treatment of metals scrubbed by the gas-cleaning facility. The plant is expected to be ready by the end of the first quarter in 2004.

The final stage of the project consists of the building of a gas-cleaning facility that is expected to be ready by the end of the first quarter in. 2006. The facility will be built next to the existing FBR plant at the smelter.

The FBR project brings Inco's total investment in programs to reduce its sulphur dioxide emissions to $845 million since the provincewide Countdown Acid Rain Program was introduced in 1986.

Meanwhile, the project is also expected to reduce the total metal emissions of nickel, copper, arsenic and lead by 80 to 100 tonnes per year. With this project, the smelter will be cutting total metal emissions by 80 per cent since it began its reduction program in 1988.

"We are removing more sulphur dioxide that would typically go out the stack, so it is good news from an environmental standpoint and Sudbury already has better air quality, as measured by the ministry (of the environment's) own standards, than most other urban centres," McPhee noted.

"There are not a lot of economic paybacks from this," he added. "It is strictly an environmental project that allows us to keep operating."

Dan O'Reilly, with the United Steelworkers of America, placed his support behind the annoncement.

"We are encouraged by Inco making that kind of commitment to the Sudbury operations," added O'Reilly. "It is good news for our members. Everybody's worried about things flowing to Voisey's Bay. This kind of investment shows the company's commitment to the Sudbury operations."
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Author:Ubriaco, Gianni
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Jan 1, 2003
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