We have a long relationship with the Port of Quebec in Canada; they provide the infrastructure we need to meet customer demand. Our facilities in the area include railway tracks, a storage dome, a screw-type ship unloader, enclosed conveyor systems and a number of bag filter dust collectors, all of which lie on land leased to us by the port.
Each year, about 30 ships travel to and from the Port of Quebec, carrying approximately 175,000 tonnes of our nickel concentrate and 130,000 tonnes of nickel matte. The concentrate from our nickel mine in Northern Quebec travels through the port and goes to our smelter in Sudbury, Ontario. Once processed, it is shipped through the port to Nikkelverk, our refinery in Norway.
We have maintained our continuous improvement programme at the port. This focuses on dust suppression, including a dry fog system for ship loading and unloading, and enclosure of the conveyor that loads ships.
In December 2015, our port facilities were recommended for ISO 14001 certification, following a series of third-party audits.
In October 2015, Quebec City’s Public Officer of Health published a report on the presence of nickel in the nearby community of Limoilou. This indicated that the nickel in the air was not a health risk. It also made five recommendations to improve air quality in Limoilou, including asking the Port of Quebec to “use good practices of handling, storage and other uses of nickel” and to use available technology to minimise dust. It calls for continued emissions monitoring at the source, but also close to residential areas, and calls for all parties to share their data.
We meet these recommendations by continuing with extensive air quality monitoring in and around our operations; we plan to work with Quebec City on its general air quality study, as well as other environmental factors such as noise and exposure to affected soil in Limoilou.