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Glencore still digging Sudbury

Ultra deep progress shows confidence in Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations, says VP
Peter Xavier, vice-president of Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations, summed up the past and upcoming year at a chamber luncheon.

Glencore plans to dig deeper into Sudbury in the upcoming year.

Peter Xavier, vice-president of their Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations, said they anticipate board approval shortly for two ultra deep mine sites in the region, at their flagship Nickel Rim and their proposed Onaping Depth, now under development. 

“These projects are on the cusp of approval... they're not guaranteed,” said Xavier, who presented an update on the miner's Sudbury operations at a Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Nov. 24.

At Nickel Rim site, they're looking at extending their existing operations by 1,000 metres to a depth of 2,700 metres to access a sizable nearby deposit. 

At their newer Onaping Depth site, they're working on a deposit that could not be safely accessed until recent innovations in ultra deep mining technology.
Xavier said both projects will move onto full-fledged development in 2017.

“It's kind of tricky," said Xavier. "We're executing work next year... there are aspects still in study, but we're in execution in some aspects. We're actually breaking rock on both of them. It's a bit hard to describe in a traditional aspect.”

Xavier said moving into execution before full approval is “a display of commitment.”

“We're taking a leap of faith,” he said. “Approaching end of life [at Nickel Rim], we have to start aspects to minimize the gap between stages.”

Xavier hopes their leap will give employees and the local community confidence in Glencore's Sudbury operations during the current low times.

“Our life in Sudbury is limited; even our own employees are looking for a signal that they have a future here,” said Xavier.

Xavier addressed the need to compete on a world stage in challenging market conditions. 

“In spite of prices and challenges, we've shaped the business to adapt,” said Xavier. 

Along with digging deeper, they're adapting by innovating.

The Nickel Rim and Onaping Mine sites have deposits as deep as 2,700 metres. Mines that extend beyond 2.5 kilometres qualify as ultra deep mines, and face unique challenges.

Xavier pointed to strides made in mining technology like battery-powered equipment, and local research initiatives for ultra deep mining that will lead the way.

He expressed confidence that the two projects will strengthen Glencore's Sudbury presence.

“These have the ability to carry the weight of the Sudbury operations into the future."