JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Canadian exploration junior Grand River Ironsands (GRI) has officially announced its joint venture (JV) with South African and Canadian partners in the North Atlantic Iron Corporation (NAIC), a $400-million iron sands mining operation and pig iron plant in Happy Valley-Goose Bay (HVGB), in Newfoundland, allowing it to move forward with a bankable feasibility study.
GRI joined forces with South African mining company Petmin and Vancouver-based Cardero Resource Corporation, after five years of preparation work.
JSE-listed Petmin will invest $25-million in the project over three defined phases.
“This technology approach will be the basis for a new approach to iron making,” GRI said in a statement.
"We now have the investment to advance to a bankable feasibility study, along with the iron-making expertise that will make this project a leader and set the bar a notch higher,” said GRI president Francis MacKenzie.
GRI, Petmin and Cardero, along with the Innu First Nation partners and a number of community stakeholders in HVGB, were now ready to advance this project to production.
The iron sands resource will be a low-cost feedstock for making a high-purity pig iron product to supply foundries and steel mills. NAIC is meeting the request from HVGB community leaders to add value to the iron sands, bringing additional economic benefits to the community and to be an environmental leader which meets or exceeds global mining and iron-making standards, GRI said.
“The iron sands around HVGB is a resource with significant economic and value creation potential for investors, partners and the local community. What stood out was the quality and strength of the commitment to the NAIC project by Innu First Nation and community leaders,” Petmin director responsible for international expansion Bradley Doig said in a statement.
"After more than 35 years in the iron business, rarely do we see a mining project with all the key elements in one location; resource, a full-service community, low-cost hydroelectricity and a port. This is an exceptional opportunity and, by using green hydroelectricity, this iron-making process will potentially be a world-class environmental leader in making iron,” Cardero Iron Ore CEO Glenn Hoffman added.
The NAIC JV is planning to extract a 7 000-t sample of sands for local processing into an iron-ore concentrate, which will be shipped to a furnace for a demonstration level test. Phase 1 of the iron-making process will be to produce 500 000 t of high-purity pig iron.
The product is expected to have a market in the US and Europe, where most ports are less than seven days by sea from HVGB.
The heavy minerals in the sands will be extracted and about 90% of the sands will be returned to the land. The heavy minerals will be separated through an established spiral separation process that uses water and gravity along with magnets. Blasting, crushing and the use of chemicals are all avoided.
The NAIC would now build on its presence in the community with a commitment to an office and acquiring additional personnel in 2012.
The NAIC iron sands and pig iron project will complete a resource estimate in the first quarter of 2012, with the related drilling already completed this year. This will be followed by a demonstration level melt test in the second quarter of 2012. Efforts towards the engineering of the iron-making operation will also begin in 2012.