By Mark Cardwell

The ongoing, on-time construction of a new and fully-funded multi-user wharf, the recent arrival of several world-class mining companies, and a slow but sure increase in the volume of iron ore shipments in 2013 have Pierre Gagnon feeling confident about the future of his facility. “Iron ore prices have decreased slightly but everything else is looking up – way up,” says the President and CEO of Port of Sept-Îles.

According to Gagnon, the new wharf is a concrete example of the harmonious relations that exists between Port of Sept-Îles and its users, and of the Port’s economic importance and potential for Quebec and Canada. It also reflects the success and foresight of the five-part sustainable development framework the Port adopted in 2011, which notably aims to reduce its environmental impact and enhance quality of life in the community while deepening relationships with stakeholders.

“The design and components of the new multi-user wharf project feature and utilize the best environmental practices,” said Gagnon. “And the fact that we avoided having each of the five companies involved build their own wharves has innumerable cost and environmental benefits for everyone involved, including the local population.” Gagnon also heralded the recent announcement by one of the new wharf’s users and the Port’s newest partner – Tata Steel Minerals Canada – that it will invest roughly $500 million in a new iron ore mine in the Schefferville area, north of Sept-Îles. “A new source of ore is always welcome news,” said Gagnon. He noted that Tata Steel expects to ship 1 million tonnes of iron ore through the Port of Sept-Îles this year, its first in the port.

Another newcomer – Labrador Iron Mines, which arrived in the port last year – is expected to ship nearly 2 million tonnes of ore this year, a 300,000 tonnes increase over 2012. Gagnon credits those shipments as contributing to the 30 million tonnes of mostly iron ore that the Port expects to handle in 2013, which would be a slight increase over the nearly 28 million tonnes shipped last year. The 2012 volume represented an 8 per cent increase over the volume handled in 2011 – an increase credited mostly to the volume increase of Labrador Iron Mines. If this year’s volume forecast holds true, 2013 will be the biggest for the Port since the late 70’s. “We’re very happy with how things are going for the Port and its partners right now,” said Gagnon. “And we think and believe things are only going to get better.”