VANCOUVER (miningweely.com) – TSX- and ASX-listed miner Champion Iron Ore has dispatched its first loaded train of iron-ore from subsidiary Quebec Iron Ore's (QIO's) flagship Bloom Lake mine, near Fermont.
The train load comprised 16 500 t of high-grade 66% iron concentrate and is destined for the Sept-Îles port, from where it will be shipped to customers.
Champion said the first train represented a tangible step towards realising Bloom Lake's potential to become a major supplier of high-quality iron-ore to global markets.
QIO had on April 11 closed the C$10.5-million acquisition of Cliffs Natural Resources' Bloom Lake assets and the Quinto claims, located opposite its flagship Fire Lake iron-ore project in the famous high-grade Labrador Trough mining district, straddling the provincial borders of Newfoundland and Quebec.
In contrast, Cliffs in 2011 bought the mine for about C$4.9-billion from Consolidated Thompson.
Bloom Lake had been on care and maintenance since December 2014, when the mine could not compete with collapsed ore prices, which fell from a record high of $180/t to $50/t four years ago. Cliffs was also more than halfway through the Phase 2 development of the mine, with many major parts already on site for an expanded operation. QIO bought the distressed operation after Cliffs had placed Bloom Lake and several other associated subsidiaries under Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act protection in January 2015.
For the restart, QIO optimised the separation circuit to materially improve the ore recovery rate.
Bloom Lake mineral reserves are estimated at 411.7-million tonnes and the mine is forecast to generate more than C$15.1-billion in revenue over the next 20 years, underlining Bloom Lake's potential to be one of the region's best long-life iron-ore mines and a significant contributor to both the Quebec and Canadian economies.
With current iron-ore prices of $78/t for 62% iron content being substantially higher than the estimates of $56/t used in the mine plan, chairperson and CEO Michael O'Keeffe noted that the operation is already tracking ahead of forecast.
Bloom Lake has rail loop infrastructure on site, consisting of a 31.9 km rail spur, and has access to end markets via rail and port. It owns 735 specialised railcars to move iron-ore, and QIO's logistics strategy ensures long-term access to some of the world's largest consumers of iron-ore. It had signed transportation agreements with the Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway Company and the Société ferroviaire et portuaire de Pointe-Noire.