Profiles: IRON ORE PRODUCERS
ArcelorMittal Mines Canada (AMMC), a subsidiary of ArcelorMittal Inc., is among two of Canada’s largest iron ore mining companies, and represents about 45 per cent of ArcelorMittal’s global sources of iron ore. ArcelorMittal Inc. (NYSE: MT) is the world’s largest steel producer and fifth largest iron ore producer. AMMC operates two large open-pit mines: one at Mont-Wright, the largest of its kind in North America, and one at Fire Lake.
Mont-Wright Mining complex
The Mont-Wright mining complex, located near the town of Fermont, Quebec, includes a concentrator, an ore crusher, large maintenance workshops, and an automated concentrate train loading system. The Mont-Wright mine has proven and probable reserves of over a billion tonnes of crude ore grading approximately 30 per cent iron. In 2012, AMMC produced about 15 million tonnes of concentrates, and more than 9 million tonnes of iron ore pellets. However, production capacity is in the process of being expanded to 24 million tonnes. The Mont-Wright mine covers over 24 square kilometres, and employs over 1,000.
The open-pit mine at Fire Lake is an additional deposit. The mine, located 55 kilometres south of the Mont-Wright Mining Complex, operates solely between May and October, when the ground has thawed. The mine site has neither a crusher nor a concentrator, though the extraction sequence is the same as at Mont-Wright. All crude ore from Fire Lake is transported to Mont-Wright by train, over the rail link that connects Fire Lake to the main railway line.
The mine is linked by AMMC’s privately owned 420-kilometre-long railway to the Port-Cartier industrial complex, which includes a pellet plant, storage areas and port facilities for shipping. On average, five full trains return from Mont-Wright each day.
The private port facilities at Port-Cartier have an annual shipping capacity of over 20 million tonnes, making it one of Canada’s largest ports. Marine traffic tops 450 vessels a year. The five-dock facility at Port-Cartier is accessible year-round. Two docks are reserved exclusively for concentrate and pellet shipping, while the third receives raw materials for pelleting. Two are leased for transshipment of grain from western Canada.
ArcelorMittal owns 85 per cent of AMMC, with the remaining 15 per cent owned by a consortium led by China Steel Corporation (Taiwan) and POSCO (South Korea).
ArcelorMittal’s Canadian operations are highly integrated, and produce numerous grades and types of steel at ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s mill in Hamilton, Ontario and other locations. The parent company has 245,000 employees in 60 countries. It conducts mining operations in 10 countries, and produces steel in 20. Lakshmi Mittal is the company’s Chairman and CEO, and his family owns 40 per cent of the company’s shares.
In 2012, ArcelorMittal produced 55.9 million tonnes of iron ore and 8.2 million tonnes of coal worldwide, and aims to increase iron ore production top 84 million tonnes annually by 2015. Most of ArcelorMittal’s production of iron ore and coal is used for internal consumption. However, the company also sells to third parties, and purchases additional supplies under long term contracts. For 2012, the company suffered a net loss of $3.7 billion on revenues of $84.2 billion, compared with a net profit of $2.3 billion in 2011.
ArcelorMittal announced in 2011 plans for an expansion at its Mont-Wright iron ore mining complex and additional construction at its Port-Cartier industrial complex. The investment will allow ArcelorMittal Mines Canada to increase its annual production of iron ore concentrate from 15 million tonnes to 24 million tonnes by the end of 2013. It is expected that once AMMC’s expansion project has been completed, AMMC and Iron Ore Company of Canada will be Canada’s two lowest-cost iron ore producers. AMMC’s resource base and existing infrastructure is sufficient for a future capacity expansion beyond 30 million tonnes per year to be contemplated.
ArcelorMittal acquired a 70 per cent ownership in Baffinland Iron Ore Mines, which company has recently received a positive environmental review for its proposed Mary River project, located on Baffin Island, Nunavut. The Mary River deposit is one of the largest and richest known iron ore deposits anywhere, and Baffinland intends to mine between 18 and 30 million tonnes annually from an open pit mine that is expected to operate year-round. Mary River iron ore is said to be among Canada’s lowest cost iron ore resources.