Iron failings [Labrador Trough] – Editorial (St. John’s Telegram – July 04, 2014)

The Labrador Trough may have seen a feeding frenzy in its day, but the herd seems to be thinning. Lured by cheaper iron from competitive sources, customers have been moving on to greener pastures.

The latest victim: Labrador Iron Mines, which announced Wednesday it’s suspending operations on both sides of the Labrador-Quebec border.

Over the past financial year, the company lost $105.2 million, compared to a net loss of $129.7 million a year ago. It said 2014 will be a “development year” as it concentrates its efforts on its Houston Mine, located near Schefferville in northern Quebec. That project is slated to begin production in April 2015.

In February, Cliffs Natural Resources announced it was idling its operations in Wabush indefinitely, leaving 400 employees out of work. But optimism still springs eternal among government and industry officials.

Two days after the February closure, Premier Tom Marshall was in Wabush announcing that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro had been instructed to forge ahead with a third line to supply power from Churchill Falls to Labrador West.

The 160 megawatts of electricity is touted as being for future developments and industrial growth, as well as improved reliability for customers in Labrador West. But the main customer will be Alderon, assuming it stays on track with its Kami mine project. The company announced this week it has temporarily suspended further engineering work, and has still not completed its financing plan.

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