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Clean AER by the numbers - editorial

To say that Vale’s Clean AER (for “Atmospheric Emissions Reduction”) project will provide a healthy boost to Greater Sudbury’s economy is an understatement.
To say that Vale’s Clean AER (for “Atmospheric Emissions Reduction”) project will provide a healthy boost to Greater Sudbury’s economy is an understatement.

In fact, the impact the massive project will have environmentally will not only be felt in the city. With less sulphur dioxide streaming from the mouth of the Superstack, the prevailing winds will carry that environmental benefit far afield.

Clean AER will reduce sulphur dioxide emissions at Vale’s Copper Cliff smelter by 70 per cent from current levels, while reducing dust and metal emissions by a further 35 to 40 per cent.

By 2015 when the project is done, the 45 kilotonnes of emissions Vale produces will be a full 11 kilotonnes below provincial government regulations.
What’s more, capturing the sulphur dioxide in the new acid plant means some 100,000 metric tonnes of the stuff will no longer be belching into the atmosphere.

The resulting sulphuric acid that will be captured by this process — and there is a lot of it — will be sold and used by other industries.
With Vale’s natural gas usage to decline by an impressive 3.5-million cubic metres once the project is completed, the company will be sending less greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

But enough about reductions. These numbers have been tossed around since Vale announced the project in 2011. What about increases — money, and what the project will mean for Sudbury’s economy?

The dollars-and-cents impact from the project will be about as massive as the impact on the environment.

Clean AER is a $2-billion project that will require some eight-million person-hours of work to complete, and around 1,300 workers on-site during the peak in construction.

Those workers will be using enough concrete to fill 13 Olympic-sized swimming pools. They will be laying 44 kilometres of pipe, 235 kilometres of electrical cable and 9.4 kilometres of hand railing.

Mining service and supply companies, naturally, expect to benefit from the project, and quite a few of them have already. About 10 per cent of the total contracts have already been awarded, with about half going to service and supply providers right here in Greater Sudbury.

Averaged over the life of the project, Clean AER works out to almost $400 million a year in construction value. As a comparison, the total value of building permits issued last year for all of Greater Sudbury came to some $285 million.

The Sudbury branch of the audit firm KPMG has been contracted to provide a sense of what the $2 billion-project will mean for the city in terms of spending. That report is not completed, but Vale does have an idea of what that impact will be — and it is big.

Local landlords can expect to share somewhere in the area of $10 million from personnel tied to the project.

Hotel and motel owners could share an estimated $8 million in revenues associated with Clean AER.

The retail sector is looking at a significant piece of the Clean AER pie. Vale estimates that between 2011 and 2015, retail spending connected with the project is anticipated to be around $74 million.

A cleaner environment. Jobs aplenty. Billions in spending.

Posted by Vivian Scinto


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