Iron Champion |  Hope for the old Pointe-Noire pellet plant

Iron Champion | Hope for the old Pointe-Noire pellet plant

(Sept-Îles) Nearly a decade after closing its doors, the former Pointe-Noire pellet plant in Sept-Îles should be back in operation after a multi-hundred million dollar facelift that Champion Iron, my Bloom Lake iron operator – wishes to offer you.

Julien Arsenault

Julien Arsenault
Press

There are still several steps to go, but the company unveiled its game Tuesday before opening the second phase of its mine site, a project that sees mining tailings stored in several lakes on the North Shore.

Champion, the parent company of Quebec Iron Ore (MFQ), has reached an agreement to acquire the plant that had been taken over by the Pointe-Noire Railway and Port Company for 2.5 million. The company will share the costs of a feasibility study with a steel giant, whose identity has not been disclosed, to get an idea of ​​the sums to invest.

“The plant needs a little love,” Champion CEO David Cataford told a news conference in Sept-Îles. “We are talking about several hundred million dollars to do the upgrade. We are not talking about market research. This is to get an idea of ​​the costs to be able to prepare the project. »

The project was presented with the Minister of Economy and Innovation, Pierre Fitzgibbon, his colleague in Energy and Natural Resources, Jonatan Julien, and Mike McKenzie, Chief of the Innu community of Uashat-Maliotenam.

To make iron granules, the ore must be processed to increase its iron content. For Champion, processing would be in addition to mining. These granules are then transformed by steel mills. On the North Shore, ArcelorMittal also operates a pellet plant in Port-Cartier.

The announcement was well received by investors. On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Champion shares rose $0.39, or 6.4%, on Tuesday to trade at $6.53.

new from old

Champion would rather buy the plant that once belonged to Cliffs Natural Resources, which opened in 1965, than build a new one. The site houses “good infrastructure” such as a crusher and other equipment “which is quite expensive,” Mr Cataford explained. The feasibility study should be completed by the end of 2023. The relaunch of the site could happen the following year or in 2025.

If the project sees the light of day, the operator of the Lac Bloom mine would like to process 6 million tonnes of ore at the pellet plant. We also want to ditch “heavy oils” to fuel electric arc furnaces, which would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Electricity, natural gas and other renewable energy sources could be part of the solution.

The American company Bedrock Industries had been identified as a potential buyer in 2019, but the transaction had not materialized. Why would this time be the right one?

PHOTO ANDRÉ PICHETTE, LA PRESSE ARCHIVE

David Cataford, CEO of Champion Iron

“We have high quality iron ore,” replies Mr. Cataford. Those interested had to find a way to buy iron. We own our resource and we exploit it. »

The financial arrangement of the project has not been specified. On several occasions in the past, the Quebec government has supported Champion. Investissement Québec (IQ), the financial arm of the state of Québec, is Champion’s second largest shareholder with an 8.4% stake.

In addition, the profitability is at the appointment of the company, which had obtained a net profit of 407 million after the first nine months of its exercise.

“A society that gets away with it, that has proven its credibility, generally doesn’t need a government,” Mr. Fitzgibbon said. We are open to participate. It must be admitted that when the markets are able to finance the project, the government can take a step back. »

At Laurentian Bank Securities, Jacques Wortman views Champion’s ambitions favorably, even if we don’t yet know the cost of the project.

“The plant benefits from a strategic location, close to the deepwater port of Pointe-Noire and rail infrastructure, the analyst writes in a note. It will require a lot of work and investment. »

controversial expansion

The second phase of the Bloom Lake mine site will allow Champion to increase annual ore production to 16 million tonnes. Despite an unfavorable opinion from the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE), Quebec had authorized the expansion of the mine.

The company had been demanded financial compensation of 20 million for the loss of fish and wetland habitats.

More information

  • 1000
    Number of workers soon to be counted at Bloom Lake Iron Mine

    SOURCE: Champion Iron


#Iron #Champion #Hope #PointeNoire #pellet #plant

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