IOC begins $60-million expansion
Fifty years ago the frozen wilds of northern Quebec seemed an unlikely place to build an iron ore mine. Nonetheless, Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) rose to the challenge and in 2005 celebrated 50 successful years of operation. IOC opened its original Smallwood mine in Schefferville, Que., in 1954, and that mine produced iron ore until 1982. Concentrate was shipped to a port in Sept-Iles, Que., over a 475-km railway that the company built.
IOC opened its Carol Lake operations in Labrador City, Nfld., in 1962. That facility includes a mine, concentrator and pelletizing plant. Like the concentrates, pellets are shipped to port in Sept-Iles.
IOC’s recent $60-million commitment to boost concentrate output from 17.0 million to 18.4 million tonnes/y is merely the start of an expansion program that could see concentrate production increase by as much as 50% to 25.0 million t/y. Additional projects are planned to increase pellet production from 13.0 million to 14.5 million t/y, ensuring IOC’s position as the biggest Canadian producer.
The current project covers all facets of the operation, addressing operating bottlenecks and purchasing additional equipment to increase production. Two Komatsu 830E haul trucks have been ordered for the mine, additional spiral lines are being installed in the concentrator and 62 rail cars will be rebuilt to transport the additional pellets to Sept-Iles. The current expansion is due to be complete in mid-2008.
At the same time IOC is conducting a feasibility study to increase concentrate production to 21.0 million t/y. The company has ordered a new 9.75-m-diameter grate-discharge autogenous grinding mill.
Terry Bowles, IOC president and CEO, says this advance purchase will avoid delays caused by long delivery times in the current market. “This growth is being driven by strong market demand, and ordering the mill now allows us to overcome constraints due to the current demand for mining equipment. I am optimistic that the feasibility study results will be positive and that we will be able to commence expanding our capacity to 21.0 million tonnes by late 2008.”
IOC (www.ironore.ca) is the largest producer of iron ore pellets in Canada. It is a partnership of Rio Tinto (59%) of London, U.K., Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation (26%) and Labrador Iron Ore Royalty Income Fund (15%).