Praxair Canada is to build, own and operate a new energy efficient cryogenic ASU in Newfoundland after signing a contract with international mining company Vale.

Operating with a capacity of 390 tons per day of gases, the new ASU will supply oxygen to Vale’s new nickel processing facility being built in Long Harbour, Newfoundland.

Vale has developed a new hydrometallurgical process that will utilize oxygen to remove the sulfur and iron from the nickel.

Unlike traditional nickel refining processes, Vale’s new method makes it possible to process the nickel ore concentrate directly into finished metals without having to smelt it first, avoiding sulfur dioxide and dust emissions.

The ASU is expected to start up in mid 2013 and Matt White, president of Praxair Canada, said, “We are committed to reliably supplying Vale with high-quality products and services to support its growth and improve its energy efficiency and environmental performance.”

“We have been a trusted supplier of gases and services to Vale for many years, both in Canada and around the world.”