Applications flood in to Vale for long-term jobs

Rep says majority of resumes for Long Harbour are from workers based in N.L.

Ashley Fitzpatrick afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com
Published on January 9, 2013
Pipefitters Keegan Benoit (left) and Gerald Carter prepare large water pipes for assembly outside the neutralization plant at the massive Vale nickel-processing facility at Long Harbour, Placentia Bay in October. A Vale spokesman says the company has received thousands of applications for approximately 500 long-term jobs at the plant. About 350 people are expected to be hired by the end of this year. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Vale is looking to fill long-term jobs for the operation of its new nickel-processing plant in Long Harbour.

Coming out of construction over the next nine months, the mining company expects to have first nickel from the plant in the fourth quarter of this year.

There are an estimated 500 long-term jobs for the operation of the plant and about 350 people are expected to be hired by the end of the year.

The jobs include about 300 “technician” positions, advertised throughout the fall of 2012.

“We’ve had quite a significant response,” said Bob Carter, a spokesman for Vale in Newfoundland and Labrador, in a recent interview with The Telegram.

Carter said the call for applications for the jobs has led to upwards of a couple thousand submissions, the vast majority being people from this province.

The applications are being assessed and a first round of offers, though not the last, will be going out before the end of the month.

Carter said some of the applications submitted mistook the positions as construction jobs, rather than maintenance and the oversight of plant processes.

However, even after sorting out inappropriate submissions, he said, there is real competition for the plant jobs. Interviews and testing are meant to give recruiters a better sense of who is best suited to the positions.

“It’s quite a rigorous process that they’re using,” Carter said, noting both aptitude and attitude are being taken into account.

There are certain other factors being considered in the hiring.

During a site tour in the first week of October 2012, Don Stevens, the general manager responsible for plant operations, said the company was hoping to attract some of the people who were involved in the test facility built at Argentia before construction on the hydromet plant was given the green light.

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are also getting a first look, he said.

Operations at the plant are being brought online incrementally, using ore from Indonesia to allow the most basic systems to be brought online first.

As operations ramp up over a span of three years, Voisey’s Bay ore — with some advanced processing required — will be brought in in increasing amounts until full production is reached.

“That plant was designed quite specifically around the feed coming from Voisey’s Bay,” Carter said, dismissing rumors the plant was going to operate only on outside material.

However, the company has not ruled out also processing material from mines outside the province in Long Harbour.

afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com