Baffinland Iron Ore begins mining in Canada’s Nunavut

Baffinland mine begins mining iron ore in Canada’s Nunavut

Baffinland’s sealift laydown site at Milne Inlet.

Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation announced Monday it has began mining operations at its Nunavut-based Mary River iron ore mine, in the Canadian Arctic.

The ore mined will be transported up to Milne Inlet, where it will wait to be loaded onto ships during the open water season of 2015.

“Due to the quality of the ore, no processing is required before shipping it to market, reducing overall impact to the environment and keeping production costs low,” the company said in a statement.

Baffinland President and CEO, Tom Paddon, said the event marks an important moment in the north.

“After more than fifty years of talk about developing Mary River, Baffinland has succeeded, “ he said, adding that operations will go on non-stop throughout the year.

The ambitious $4-billion rail and port project, located in the Qikiqtani Region of Nunavut, almost 500 kilometres inside the Arctic circle, was expected to ship 18 million tonnes of iron ore annually. In 2012, however, the company — owned 50 % by ArcelorMittal and 50% by Nunavut Iron Ore (NIO)— decided to scale-down the operation, as the mining downturn and lower iron ore prices made the full project difficult to finance.

The Mary River operation, one of the world’s richest and largest iron ore deposits, contains approximately 365 million tonnes of high-grade ore that can be shipped directly without requiring processing that produce tailings.

The life of the mine is expected to be more than 20 years for the first deposit.

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