Vale’s Manitoba Operations have undergone a change at the top.
Gary Eyres, who took over leadership of mining and milling operations in Thompson in March 2019, is no longer with the company after less than year on the job. He has been replaced by Franco Cazzola, manager of the Copper Cliff mine in Sudbury since August of last year and of the Copper Cliff nickel refinery since September 2018. Cazzola was formerly the manager of health and safety for Vale’s Manitoba Operations from January 2005 to October 2008. He graduated from the University of Guelph with a bachelor in applied science in 1985.
“Franco brings years of leadership experience managing surface plants and mines all across the Vale Ontario Operations and has a track record of delivering on safety, production and cost commitments with a sharp focus on risk management,” said Tara Ritchie of Vale Manitoba Operations in a Feb. 7 email. “He is excited to take on this new role and to lead our Thompson team to achieve the safety and productivity requirements that will support Thompson’s future.”
Eyres made headlines in November when he told the Thompson Chamber of Commerce that the company might spend up to $1 billion over five years to enable miners to access new nickel ore sources around Thompson.
He was the third person to oversee Vale’s Manitoba Operations since vice-president Mark Scott’s position was eliminated in July 2018, following in the footsteps of Vale North Atlantic mining heads Alistair Ross and Mike McCann.
The company was considering taking Birchtree Mine off care and maintenance and shifting it into inactive status, said Warren Luky, president of United Steelworkers Local 6166, which represents hourly Vale employees in Thompson, but informed the five workers still employed there Feb. 7 that it was remaining on care and maintenance for now.
Mining stopped at Birchtree at the end of September 2017.
“Since that time, there has been no production, although the site has been managed to ensure it remains in a safe and stable condition,” Ritchie said Feb. 6 in response to an inquiry from the Thompson Citizen. “We are currently looking at all our options although no decisions have been made at this time with regards to the future status of the mine.”
Ritchie said she should be able to provide another update in a few weeks.