Moving forward [Iron Ore Company of Canada] – by Ty Dunham (St. John’s Telegram – September 16, 2015)

IOC’s Wabush 3 project approved for development

The Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) has received approval for the expansion of the Wabush 3 pit.

The Iron Ore Company of Canada in Labrador City received the long awaited approval for the Wabush 3 open mining pit development. — Photo by Ty Dunham/The Aurora

The provincial government gave the green light to the environmental assessment last week, giving company the go-ahead on a critical project that will provide sustainability over the amount of ore that goes to the plant to meet the rate of production.

Marsha Power Slade, senior adviser for external relations and corporate affairs for IOC, said while IOC started focusing on the project 2 1/2 years ago, discussions on the expansion began five to seven years ago.

She added the additional pit would allow for greater ore flexibility due to its low strip ratio.

“That means we can blend ores as needed for our clients, and have the available ore,” she explained. “(That) means we have less waste to move, which takes up costs and people and time. We’ll have more efficiencies.”

The new development brings optimism during a difficult time for Labrador west, which saw layoffs at IOC and the shutdown of Wabush Mines in the past two years. However, Slade said with the low iron ore prices, there’s no guarantee the company is safe from further cost reduction measures.

“It’s a challenging time, one of the most challenging years for IOC, said Slade. “I couldn’t say that anything, Wabush 3 in particular, would save IOC.”

The company will continue to focus on safety and production in the volatile market, she added.

“Wabush 3 is something we’ve taken a lot of time and effort into. While it’s one of the most challenging years we’ve had, it is about sustainability into the future. But nothing is guaranteed.”

IOC predicts Wabush 3 will extend the life of the mine by 12 years, from 2067 to 2079. Slade said while a feasibility study is underway to determine the final costs of the project, the total cost is expected to be around $75 million.

Approximately $10 million to $15 million of those costs will go to mitigations for local stakeholders, including Smokey Mountain Ski Lodge, Menihek Nordic Ski Club, and the Whitewolf Snowmobile Club.

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