Published on August 21, 2013
An incentive program to trades workers at the Vale N.L. Long Harbour construction site appeared to be paying off in August 2013.
The Telegram file photo
Published on July 23, 2013
Equipment is shown that will be used to process nickel at the facility in Long Harbour. — File photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram
Vale moves processing plant project into start-up phase
Major construction work on Vale’s new, multibillion-dollar hydromet processing plant at Long Harbour is complete.
Construction at Long Harbour began in April 2009.
The development was subdivided into large “phases” of work. The first phase involved constructing all of the buildings and systems required to allow the plant to be turned over to a commissioning team.
“We met our objective,” said Bob Carter, a spokesman for Vale Newfoundland and Labrador. “We had what we call construction mechanical completion on Oct. 30 — one day ahead of target.”
In July, with construction on Phase 1 about 86 per cent complete, Vale launched the “Long Harbour Completion Challenge” — offering millions of dollars in new incentives to construction workers, in order to maintain a reasonable project deadline.
Workers were offered a pay raise of as much as $5 an hour to start.
Those raises would retroactively run to as high as $10 an hour, if the company’s goals were met. Oct. 31 was the big deadline.
The initial raise was to be paid out on regular cheques. The rest will now be provided to workers as a bonus.
The total number of tradespeople employed on the project peaked in this first phase of work, at just over 6,000, Carter said.
The next major piece of work — the start-up of the plant, finishing work at the port site and development of internal systems to allow for the processing of Voisey’s Bay concentrate — will require about 1,500 people at peak.
With the end of major construction, layoffs have already begun.
The drop off in worker numbers will speed up over the next month or two, Carter said.
First nickel is expected from the plant in 2014.
Vale will have about 500 long-term technician positions at the site when the plant moves into full operations, with local applicants promised the first look.
More than half of the positions have already been filled, but hires will continue to be added as needed until the plant is in full swing and the full contingent is reached.