Quebec iron-ore miner Champion Iron is considering doubling the capacity of its Bloom Lake mine, near Fermont, and will complete a feasibility study before the end of the year.
Pending a positive decision resulting from an economic feasibility study, construction could start in late 2019 or early 2020 with first production as early as 2021, TSX- and ASX-listed Champion Iron said on Thursday.
The proposed expansion would mainly involve the completion of construction work on a processing plant and other supporting infrastructure, which was interrupted in November 2012 by the mine’s previous owner.
The expansion aims at doubling the current operational production capacity of 7.5-million tonnes of high-grade 66% iron concentrate.
Champion Iron said Phase 2 could potentially create more than 500 jobs during construction and 200 permanent operational jobs.
The Bloom Lake mine was reopened in February 2018, and has since produced 5.82-million wet metric tons (wmt) of 66.5% iron concentrate.
In the December quarter, which was also Champion Iron’s third fiscal quarter, the mine produced 1.79-million wet metric tons of 66.4% iron concentrate, a decrease from the 1.86-million tonnes produced in the preceding quarter.
Champion explained that the production for the period was impacted by the planned semi-annual shutdown of eight days and by an additional 12 days to redesign and modify the crushed ore warehouse chute located between the inland conveyor and the mill. These factors contributed to the variation of 8.7% when compared to the previous quarter.
The total cash cost for the quarter was $49.4/dry metric ton (dmt) and the all-in sustaining cost was $55/dmt.
During the three-month period ended December 31, 2018, the miner sold 1.71-million tonnes of high-grade iron-ore concentrate at a CFR China gross realised price of $91.6/dmt before shipping. The gross sales price of $91.6/dmt represents a premium of 27.9% over the benchmark P62 price compared with a premium of 38% in the previous quarter as the price of the P62 strengthened by 7% during the quarter. Deducting sea freight cost of $26.1/dmt, the company obtained an average realised price of $65.5/t. As a result, revenues totalled $147.55-million for the period.
The sales variation compared to the prior quarter relates to the lower production and higher ocean freight costs associated with the winter season.
Champion’s net income for the three-month period ended December 31, totalled $31.2-million.