Iron ore mining lacks the glamour of gold mining, but without it no aspect of our lives would be the same. Consider where iron and steel are used - everywhere including the kitchen sink. Global production in 2009 was estimated to be 2.3 billion tonnes. (By comparison, global gold production in 2008 was 2,260 tonnes, roughly one-millionth that of iron ore.)
Iron ore prices are strong, thanks to Chinese demand. Producers have abandoned the benchmark price in favour of quarterly adjustments so that they may take advantage of presumed increases.
Against this backdrop, CMJ welcomes Canada's newest iron ore producer, Consolidated Thompson Iron Mines. The company's Bloom Lake mine in Labrador quietly began shipping concentrate to Sept-Iles, QC, 400 km to the south earlier, this month. It plans to ship 250,000 tonnes in May in addition to the 8 million tonnes annually which are destined for offshore customers.
Consolidated Thompson expects the operation to eventually grow to 16 million tonnes of concentrates annually. Both the Bloom Lake and the Peppler-Lamelee properties have significant exploration potential. (www.ConsolidatedThompson.com)
The Bloom Lake mine is only the first of several new iron ore developments that will soon join the ranks of producers in eastern Canada. Current producers include the Fire Lake and Mont-Wright mines belonging to ArcelorMittal Mines Canada, the Wabush mine of Cliffs Natural Resources and the operations of the Iron Ore Company of Canada.
Here is a rundown of the other newcomers:
Baffinland Iron Mines of Toronto continues to explore its Mary River property on Baffin Island as the project is readied for construction. Production is anticipated in 2014 from an open pit with an annual mining rate of 13 million tonnes of ore and a life of 21 years. With grades as high as 65% Fe, the Mary River ore will be shipped directly to customers. (www.Baffinland.com)
Labrador Iron Mines Holdings of Toronto received environmental approval in February for its plans to mine direct shipping ore (DSO) from its properties in Labrador near Schefferville, QC. Production would begin at the James and Redmond brownfield deposits at an initial rate of 6,000 t/d. Construction could begin this year. (www.LabradorIronMines.ca)
A production decision is imminent for the DSO project belonging to New Millennium Capital of Calgary. DSO production is expected in 2011, and the company's property contains enough taconite to support mining at a rate of 4 million t/y for 72 years or more. New Millennium has two more deposits, the KeMag and LabMag, that could provide future ore output in the area. (www.NMLResources.com)
Those are the iron ore projects that have the potential to double Canada's output. We wish them well.