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Vale shuttering Clarabelle Mill crushing plant

Vale in Sudbury is suspending crushing plant operations

Vale in Sudbury is shuttering yet another section of its mining operations; this time it's Clarabelle Mill's crushing plant.

It was confirmed on Sept. 7 that Vale was moving ahead with the suspension. This comes just months after closing down operations at the historic Stobie Mine, which the company said at the time was due to low metal prices and declining ore grades.

“Due to the fact that we are processing less ore as a result of the recent suspension of operations at Stobie Mine, we no longer require the crushing area within Clarabelle Mill,” Angie Robson, manager of corporate affairs for Ontario operations at Vale, stated in an email. “Going forward, the plant will run as a SAG (semi-autonomous grinding) Mill only.”

In later comments, she said: "The suspension of operations at Stobie Mine has resulted in less ore being processed through Clarabelle Mill. The amount of ore is sufficient to be processed through the installed SAG (semi-autonomous grinding) area within the mill, which will continue to operate."

In previous comments, she said operations at the crushing area have been down for the past four months, and after a comprehensive review, a decision has been made to suspend operations in the area permanently.

She did confirm that 13 jobs will be affected, but there's no word if this means layoffs or if employees will be moved to other departments. Employees at Stobie were absorbed into other departments.

Nickel prices have been hovering around $4 to $5. Vale took a major financial hit due to those low prices. In July, Vale's net income dropped drastically to $16 million from $1.1 billion in the same quarter a year earlier. The company plans to seek out copper mining options and stop expanding nickel production capacity.

Multiple attempts to contact Unites Steel Workers president Rick Bertrand were unsuccessful as of press time.