Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) reported on May 6, 2010, it had received approval from its shareholders to resume a C$435-million expansion program to increase its concentrate capacity by 4 million mt/y to 22 million mt/y by 2012. The investment is the first stage of a three-stage expansion program that could increase IOC’s concentrate capacity to 26 million mt/y. Initially approved in March 2008, the expansion program was suspended later that year as the global financial crisis impacted markets worldwide. The revised total project cost for the first-stage expansion, including investments made prior to suspension, is C$539 million.
The first-stage expansion will comprise an overland conveyor to remove bottlenecks in the current ore delivery system, a fourth autogenous grinding mill to increase primary grinding capacity, and associated mine and rail equipment. By growing IOC’s ore crushing, delivery, and grinding capacity, the first-stage expansion will set the stage for subsequent phases.
IOC is owned 58.72% by Rio Tinto, which operates the company; Mitsubishi Corp. (26.18%); and Labrador Iron Ore Royalty Income Fund (15.10%). IOC Chairman and Rio Tinto Chief Executive Iron Ore Sam Walsh said the expansion decision underscored the confidence of IOC’s shareholders in growing demand for iron ore, the attractiveness of investing in Canada, and the quality and potential of IOC’s assets. “Some uncertainty and potential volatility remain about global economic recovery, but global iron ore and steel markets have rebounded strongly, and demand growth looks set to continue,” Walsh said. “IOC’s assets and high-quality product position us strongly for future iron ore demand growth in North America, Europe, and Asia.”
IOC President and CEO Zoë Yujnovich said the project will enable IOC to take major strides toward realizing its full operational potential, which can draw on almost 4 billion mt of ore reserves and resources along with nearby exploration prospects.