(From left) Jeff McLaughlin, Vice-President of Vale’s Newfoundland and Labrador Operations; Premier Kathy Dunderdale; and Natural Resources Minister Tom Marshall address members of the media today in St. John's regarding amendments to the Voisey’s Bay Development Agreement. — Telegram photo
Amendments to the Voisey’s Bay Development Agreement announced today by the provincial government and Vale Newfoundland & Labrador Limited (Vale) include a commitment to an underground mine at Voisey’s Bay.
A news release notes the agreement now includes enhanced industrial and employment benefits and additional revenue to government of approximately $100 million over three years.
The amendments were made due to the delayed construction schedule at Long Harbour nickel processing plant. The delay meant the plant would not be ready to process all of the nickel concentrate from Voisey’s Bay until 2015.
Through the agreement, the provincial government will provide Vale with an additional exemption from primary processing requirements between 2013 and 2015 so that the Voisey's Bay mine can maintain continued operation while construction of the processing plant in Long Harbour is completed.
All exempted concentrate will be replaced and processed in Long Harbour in future years.
"We are pleased with the outcome of these negotiations with Vale," Premier Kathy Dunderdale said during a news conference this morning.
“The new mine will provide many hundreds of construction jobs after sanction in 2015, and even more operational employment than the current mine after first ore is achieved in 2019.”
Jeff McLaughlin, vice-president of Vale’s Newfoundland and Labrador operations, said Vale recognizes the importance of the underground mine to the continuity of operations at Voisey’s Bay and as future feed supply for the Long Harbour plant.
“Underground mining is the next natural evolution in our operations at Voisey’s Bay and today’s announcement allows us to unlock additional value in this world-class operation,” McLaughlin said.
“The agreement provides Vale with the necessary additional exemptions from primary processing that ensure continuity of operations at Voisey’s Bay while construction continues on the Long Harbour processing plant.”
About 400 people are currently employed at the mine in Voisey's Bay and the underground extension is expected to add another 400 operating jobs.
About 800 people will be required for construction, to get the mine working underground, McLaughlin said.
The new agreement between the province and Vale assures the mine will run until at least 2035.
The premier and McLaughlin both said no decision had been made on how the mine extension will be powered.
Diesel power, wind power and hydro power are all being considered.
As for environmental assessment, the original assessment for the Voisey's Bay mine included the possibility of the mine extending underground and no further assessment is planned.