Canadian Mining Journal


NICKEL: Vale accused of toxic run-off

ONTARIO – has reported that on Oct. 8, 2015, the RCMP on behalf of Environment Canada exercised a search warrant at Vale’s Sudbury offices seeking information about an alleged leak of toxic nickel effluent from the smelter slag piles. Computers and documents were seized.

In the warrant, it is also alleged that Inco knew about the problem as early as 1963. At that time, the operations were owned by Inco, and the Brazilian miner bought it out in 2006 for US$17.6 billion.

Evidently a resident alerted Environment Canada of a “foamy, lime green coloured substance in a creek” in October 2012. The effluent is suspected of flowing from the slag heaps onto a Sudbury Catholic District School Board property and then into the city’s storm drains. Testing revealed that the creek has nickel levels 68 times higher and copper levels 2.6 times higher than regulated limits.

Vale has co-operated fully in providing the information requested, but disputes the charges. The company said that it addressed the issue in 2012 when it was discovered.

Undoubtedly, the issue will take some time to resolve. CMJ will provide readers with periodic updates.