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Top executives at Inco Ltd. were handed big salary increases in 2002, when the mining company ran up a loss of $1.5-billion (U.S.).

Scott Hand, chairman and chief executive officer, was paid a total of $1.4-million last year, up 13 per cent from $1.24-million the year before.

In addition, he was offered 100,000 stock options, up 30 per cent from 77,000 options in 2001.

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Company documents show Peter Jones, president and chief operating officer, was paid $915,000 in 2002, up 23 per cent from his compensation of $742,000 in 2001.

He was given 66,000 options, up 57 per cent from 42,000 the year before.

The two executives were given a raise in the same period two writedowns resulted in a corporate loss of $1.5-billion.

Toronto-based Inco took an after-tax writedown of $1.6-billion to reduce the carrying value of the Voisey's Bay project and a further $26-million related to the Goro project in the South Pacific.

In 2001, Inco reported a profit of $305-million.

In its fourth-quarter financial statement, the company noted that normalized profit rose to $168-million or 75 cents a share in 2002, up from $93-million or 35 cents the year before.

There were three departures from the board of directors this year.

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Eleanor Clitheroe, who was fired as CEO of Hydro One Inc. after her spending habits became public, will not stand for re-election at the annual meeting next month.

She has since filed a lawsuit against Hydro One for wrongful dismissal. An Inco spokesman said he could not comment on the reasons for her departure.

Michael Sopko, a former Inco chairman and CEO, resigned from the board last month at the age of 64. He will continue as a consultant until October, 2006, at a salary of $160,000 a year.

Mr. Sopko was replaced on the board by Mr. Jones, Inco president.

Charles Hantho will retire from the board just before the annual meeting.

Mr. Hantho retired as chairman of Dofasco Inc. last year when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 70.

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Two steel company executives have been nominated to replace Ms. Clitheroe and Mr. Hantho.

They are John Mayberry, who will retire as chairman and CEO of Dofasco in May, and Roger Phillips, who retired as president and CEO of Ipsco Inc. last January.

Inco said it will retain PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as auditors.

It paid the auditors a total of $3.4-million in 2002, up from $3-million the year before.

The auditing bill for 2002 included $1.7-million to meet regulatory requirements, $213,000 for audit-related fees, $1.5-million for tax services and $13,000 for other services.

In its proxy circular, Inco said the board would separate the positions of chairman and CEO "when it believes it would be in the best interests of the company, on either an interim basis or otherwise."

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As part of that process, it created the position of lead director, and gave the job to Glen Barton, chairman and CEO of Caterpillar Inc. The lead director will chair meetings of the non-employee directors and work with the chairman and CEO.

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