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Smelting and refining will stop in 2018 once mill can produce and ship nickel concentrate

Extension of Thompson ore body will have to wait for higher nickel prices
Vale Manitoba Operations vice president Mark Scott
Mark Scott has been named vice-president of Vale's Manitoba Operations following Lovro Paulic's transfer to Indonesia.

Vale’s Manitoba Operations will stop smelting and refining nickel in 2018, according to a report by Reuters.

Mark Scott, Vale’s Manitoba Operations mining and milling director, told the news agency Nov. 19 while at the Manitoba Mining and Minerals convention that once the mill can produce and ship nickel concentrate, the company will cease its smelting and refining activities in Thompson.

Vale first announced in 2010 that it would be shutting down its smelter and refinery by 2015. About two years later, the company announced that the coming closure, a result of federal sulphur dioxide emissions standards, would not come until at least the end of 2015. In October 2014, Vale said it had reached a deal with the federal government that would allow the smelter and refinery to operate until the end of 2018.

“We have a tentative agreement with the federal government to allow for the operation of the smelter up to Jan. 1, 2019, until such time as the concentrate load-out facility is completed,” said Manitoba Operations manager of corporate affairs and organizational development Ryan Land at that time.

Reuters also reported that Vale would finish a feasibility study on the extension of the Thompson ore body in early 2016 and then put the project on hold until nickel prices improve. The news agency asked Scott if Thompson nickel operations were losing money but he declined to answer the question. Scott also told Reuters that the company will expand the tailings area in Thompson.

The price of nickel was about C$5.40 per pound on Nov. 18.

Reuters reported that Vale, the world’s largest nickel producer, which also produces iron ore, reported a third quarter net loss of $2.1 billion in October.