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Friday, August 18, 2017

August 18, 2017

 

For Immediate Release

 

 

 

Opposition Concerned by Report the Vale Underground Mine is On Hold

 

Keith Hutchings, Natural Resources Critic for the Official Opposition, said, "News that Vale has put on hold its Voisey's Bay underground mine in Labrador raises huge concerns."

 

"It now appears that the concerns we raised about the project in Question Period in December 2016 were warranted. At that time, we asked about the impact of the company's request to have engineering in place prior to procurement‎, and whether this might delay the project. We believed at the time that this was a business process issue, not an issue warranting a delay. But Minister Siobhan Coady basically dismissed the concerns. Asked again during this year's Estimates Committee meeting in May 2017, Minister Coady stated the project remained on schedule," said Hutchings.

 

In the May Budget Estimates Committee meeting, Minister Coady said: "The primary objective is still to have the ore production from the underground mine by 2019-2020, so that continues. But within that time frame, because of some of the changes that they're doing with regard to procurement and making sure they have all the engineering done, there are some schedule changes within that which we are considering.‎"

 

Hutchings said, "A recent report from the company suggests a change or reduction in commodity prices‎ is a key consideration for the stoppage and re-evaluation of the mine, yet nickel commodity prices have been relatively stable since 2015. So when Minister Coady spoke of the company changing its business process or delays, the commodity prices had been fairly constant. Were there concerns at that time that were not revealed, and if so, why not?‎"

 

"On our watch, we secured improvements to the original agreement, but it appears that the Liberals are being pressed into relaxing the terms that were agreed to. ‎If Vale intends to place the underground component on hold, how will this affect Labrador and Long Harbour operations? How will it affect employment, investment, engineering, procurement and benefits? What penalties might be triggered? What penalties might the Liberals be asked to forgive? What arguments will the company use to make its case? How will it affect the facility in Long Harbour and needing product to refine? Will it come from elsewhere in the world? Has this been confirmed?"

 

"The company committed to develop the underground resources of Voisey's Bay based on a partnership with our province. That economic activity is very important to our province. The prospect of having that activity grind to a halt is troubling. Minister Coady should immediately update the people of our province on the status and provide answers not provided in December 2016 in the House of Assembly or in May 2017 in the Budget Estimates,” he said.

 

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Media Contact: Heather MacLean, Director of Communications, Office of the Official Opposition

 

(709) 729 6105, heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca

 

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