Champion Iron (TSX: CIA) has completed the first rail shipments containing 24,304 tonnes of high-grade 66.2% iron concentrate from the Phase II expansion project at the Bloom Lake mine in Quebec.
The mine complex is located approximately 13 km north of Fermont, and 10 km north of the Mont Wright iron ore mining complex belonging to ArcelorMittal Mines Canada. The railway runs between the Bloom Lake and the deep-water port in Sept-Îles, Quebec.
The Bloom Lake operations were first commissioned in 2018, starting with the Phase I project that had a nameplate capacity of 7.4 million tonnes of 66.2% iron concentrate per year over a mine life of 21 years. The Phase II expansion doubled the nameplate capacity to 15 million tonnes per annum.
According to a feasibility study released in 2019, the Phase II project required the completion of the concentrator, which was partially built by the mine’s former owner, and an optimized mine plan to supply ore to the expanded facilities while maintaining a mine life of 20 years. The study estimated pre-production capital expenditures of C$633.8 million ($497.4m) As of March 31, a total of C$625.2 million ($490.7m) had been invested in the project.
Commissioning of the Phase II project was recently achieved ahead of schedule, and the company is now working to gradually increase the mine and plant’s capacity towards commercial production, anticipated to occur by the end of this year.
“The Phase II project is expected to be in operation for decades and will provide the Québec Côte-Nord region with over 400 additional permanent high-quality jobs. Completing the project ahead of schedule, while facing the challenges imposed by the covid-19 pandemic, is a testament to the agility and operational excellence of our employees and partners,” Champion’s CEO David Cataford said in a news release.