More than 100 people, business owners and managers filed into a conference room at the Sheraton Hotel in St. John’s Thursday afternoon, filling the available seats.
They were there to hear about opportunities available to them at Long Harbour, as Vale’s $2.8-billion hydromet processing plant gets up and running. They were seeking more information about becoming long-term, official suppliers of goods or services to Vale.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association (NOIA) teamed with Vale to offer the session, with NOIA able to connect the world’s second-largest mining company to local companies interested in supporting, and benefitting from, its Long Harbour project.
Don Stevens, general manager of Vale’s operations in Newfoundland and Labrador, opened the session with an overview of the mining company and the project.
“It’s more akin to a chemical processing plant than a traditional mining or milling process,” he
said, describing the hydromet processing of Voisey’s Bay ore. “It’s aggressive, it’s complex, but actually it’s quite efficient.”
Construction has chugged along at a fair pace. Late this fall, the company hopes to begin internal fabrication for one of the main buildings, Stevens said. Construction is expected to be completed in 2013.
As Vale moves into day-to-day operations it will need local support, and it intends to spend millions on local contracts.
Services required at the processing facility will include, but not be limited to: waste management, security, stevedoring, specialty maintenance, health and safety services and various consulting services.
A superintendent of strategic procurement with Vale, Pam Chahal, said also having reliable nuts and bolts suppliers at the ready — suppliers who can keep anything from chemicals to mill equipment parts flowing in — will be of value to the mining company. Vale is “always looking to develop local suppliers,” she said.
“We want to add to our vendor base to ensure we are including all interested vendors in Newfoundland and Labrador,” added Vale’s Donna Patterson.
With a briefing on the company’s internal tendering process, an operations and training manager for work with that system, Glenn Tobin, tried not to scare off the potential business partners in the room. “All times you will have support from us if needed,” he said.
Everyone who attended the meeting in St. John’s was placed on a list to receive further information from the company about the Long Harbour project and how to get involved.
For those unable to attend the session, more information on both procurement and direct employment opportunities with Vale are available on the project website (www.vbnc.com/).