LABRADOR and QUEBEC – The IRON ORE COMPANY OF CANADA (IOC), based in Montreal, and London, U.K.-based RIO TINTO have approved spending $500 million to increase IOC’s annual production of iron ore concentrate to 22 million tonnes (t). The investment is the first phase of an expansion program that will see up to a 50% increase in production capability by 2011.
Work begins immediately to expand IOC’s mining and processing facilities in Labrador West and increase transportation capacity on its 418-km railway to its port facilities in Sept-les, Que. The investment includes the purchase of new mining equipment; the installation of a new crusher station in the mine and autogenous grinding mill in the concentrator; and a 6-km overland conveyor to link them together. New locomotives and rail cars will be purchased to increase railway capacity.
The remainder of the expansion program is currently in feasibility studies, and a decision will be made later this year on plans to further increase total production to more than 25 million t, including an increase in pellet production to 14.5 million t.
IOC chairman and Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Sam Walsh said, “The iron ore market is as tight as it has ever been, and our sustained and substantial reinvestment in our operations in Canada and worldwide demonstrates the confidence we have in that market.”
IOC president and CEO Terence F. Bowles said the expansion will provide substantial employment and economic growth in the communities of Labrador City and Sept Iles. IOC’s 1,900 employees, most of whom work in Newfoundland and Labrador and constitute one of the province’s largest industrial workforces, will grow by a further 200 with this expansion. Construction jobs are expected to peak at 250 over the next three years. “IOC has been the main driver of the Labrador West economy for almost 50 years,” said Bowles, “and this expansion program ensures that a new generation of families in the region can be confident that there will be rewarding careers for years to come.” Watch for updates on the expansion at www.ironore.ca.
IOC is Canada’s largest iron ore producer, with iron ore being one of Canada’s most important mineral products in terms of both tonnage and value. At the end of 2006, IOC had 962 million t of iron ore reserves (416 million t on a product basis) and 3,155 million t of iron ore resources (1,370 million t on a product basis), as well as a significant exploration potential. Rio Tinto is the major shareholder of IOC (58.72%), along with MITSUBISHI CORP. (26.18%), and LABRADOR IRON ORE ROYALTY INCOME FUND (15.10%).