This past summer was one of the busier that Labrador West has seen since the early construction days in the 60s.
Projects on almost every scale have made headlines throughout the region, and one of those is the expansion that has been in full swing since last May by Iron Ore Company of Canada in Labrador City as it continues to create employment and activity in the region.
The original announcement to expand was made in 2008 but was temporarily suspended during the global economic crisis of 2009. In May of 2010, however, the program resumed, receiving approval from its shareholders for a C$435 million investment to increase its annual concentrate capacity by 4 million tonnes to 22 million tonnes by 2012.
The first stage of IOC’s Concentrate Expansion Program includes an overland conveyor, a fourth autogenous grinding mill, and associated mine and rail equipment, all of which is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.
The combined three phases of the expansion program will increase annual concentrate capacity to 26 million tonnes.
In February of this year, the resumption of Phase Two of the program was announced, which will see IOC invest C$289 million to expand IOC’s magnetite processing facility and add new spiral lines to its gravity separation circuit. It will also include the purchase of additional mining equipment, railway cars and a locomotive, as well as upgrades at the Wabush terminal sub-substation.
But restarting the second phase of the Expansion Program means more because not only will the project allow IOC to become a more competitive business, but it will further contribute to the economy and to sustainable employment opportunities for employees.
The first two phases of the expansion program are currently underway and workers from all over the province and beyond are helping IOC grow.
IOC is keenly aware of the housing challenges in Labrador West, so temporary housing solutions have been created to accommodate the short-term surge of workers. Since 2008, the company has added nearly 1000 beds to the Labrador West region.
The third phase of the expansion program is currently under study, and IOC continues to look at new opportunities for growth.
The company has a rich history of supporting the Town of Labrador City’s development and growth. In fact, many claim that IOC “almost built the town” by contributing to its development through involvement in many community initiatives such as financial support and the sharing of human resources and expertise.
As a result of this partnership with IOC, Labrador City has developed into a modern town, complete with an elected municipal government, privately owned houses, schools and medical facilities operated by the province and a strong mining supply and retail sector.
But IOC’s interest goes far beyond the Town of Labrador City as proven by the fact that it’s also the largest private employer in Newfoundland and Labrador. The company employs more than 2200 people, of which more than 1500 work in the province. This figure is naturally higher when indirect employment is factored in.
The company also has the largest number of apprentices of any employer in the province. Furthermore, while the mining industry in Canada currently has a 13% female population, IOC has almost 20% .
All of the above-mentioned expansion projects mean lots of opportunity for people in Labrador West, and IOC says it is actively recruiting and will continue to offer even more job numbers as the expansion projects move into operational phase.