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Sudbury's iconic Superstack operational no more

Nickel miner Vale announced stack has now been decomissioned

Vale’s iconic Superstack in Sudbury has been decommissioned.

In a July 28 statement, the nickel producer said the stack at its Copper Cliff Complex was taken out of service earlier this month during a planned maintenance period.

During that time, the company completed the tie-in to the flue systems to the two new 450-foot stacks that were built to replace it.

Those “milestones” mark the completion of the Superstack’s decommissioning, Vale said.

“Completing this process of taking the Superstack completely out of service is symbolic of Vale’s evolution towards reducing our environmental footprint with innovative and more sustainable Smelter operations ” said Dino Otranto, the chief operating officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Operations and Asian Refineries, in a news release.

Decommissioning of the Superstack is part of a larger, ongoing plan to reduce emissions and energy use at the complex.

The two, smaller stacks are more efficient and will require less energy to operate than the Superstack, which rises 1,250 feet into the air and has been in operation since 1972.

The change is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Vale’s Copper Cliff Smelter by roughly 40 per cent.

It’s expected that natural gas consumption will drop by nearly half, from 94 million cubic metres per year to 48 million cubic metres per year – a savings roughly equivalent to the average fuel consumption of approximately 17,500 homes or one third of all households in Sudbury, Vale said.

Overall, Vale’s Clean AER (Atmospheric Emissions Reduction) Project, which began in 2012, will reduce particulate emissions by 40 per cent and reduce sulphur dioxide emissions by 85 per cent.

With the new stacks now operational, Vale said intermittent plumes would be visible throughout the day.

The Superstack would remain “hot” for roughly two months as the new flue tie-ins are tested, but once testing is complete, the Superstack will be taken out of service permanently, the company added.

The steel liner will then be removed, a process that’s expected to take the next few years. No timeline was provided on when the concrete shell would be taken down.

“There is no immediate need for the concrete shell to be demolished and it is expected to remain a part of the Sudbury skyline for several years to come,” the company said.