The Chinese corporation Wisco plans to build a huge mining complex worth $ 13 billion in Northern Quebec by 2016.
“This is a huge and complex project. It’s not just mine, it’s much bigger than that, “said President and CEO of Adriana Resources, Allen J. Palmieri, in an interview earlier this week from its offices in Toronto.
Located in the Labrador Trough in 160 km north of Schefferville and 250 km south of Kuujjuaq, the project provides Otelnuk Lake mining 50 million tons of iron ore per year over a period that could extend over 100 years.
It also includes the construction of a concentrator and a pelletizing plant on the site of mining.
The project includes the construction of a railway line of 815 km south of Lake Otelnuk and expansion of the port of Sept-Iles to host the huge Chinamax, ships carrying up to 400 000 tons of cargo.
Once in production, some 2,500 permanent workers would be required for the operation of the project.
Wisco leaders, one of the largest steelmakers in the world, conducted a site visit last month in company with Chinese engineers and geologists. They also met with Premier Jean Charest on August 30 during his visit to Beijing where he is actively promoting the Northern Plan.
The contours of the project were designed months before the publication of the Northern Plan, but the accompanying measures announced in the government in May have attracted developers, counsel Jean Masson, who represents Adriana in Quebec.
Under an agreement reached earlier this year, Adriana and Wisco share 60 and 40 per cent of the project. The Chinese giant is committed to provide at least 70 percent of the funding required.
To support its growth, China’s economy needs huge amount of iron.
With six billion tons in reserve, deposit of Lake Otelnuk is certainly a business opportunity for the Chinese, buyers of 60 percent of iron ore in the world.
Wisco wants to go fast and plans to begin the first phase of production in 2016.
“This is an extremely ambitious goal, but possible,” says Mr. Palmieri, owner of Adriana, who had to explain to his partner the process of consultation and studies in Quebec.
“I told them from day one it would take time. They want things to go faster, but they understand, “said Palmieri.
Nevertheless, it takes long and perilous steps before the first shipment of iron takes the sail to China.
Feasibility studies and environmental impact as well as public hearings with the Inuit people have not yet been conducted. A roadmap rather responsible also expects developers to connect the Hydro-Quebec and the public land for rail transport.
The feasibility study, the cost of which is estimated at $ 60 million, is spread over two years.
If both partners agree on the need to move quickly, there is no question of pushing the steps, said Mr. Palmieri.
“What we expect of the Government of Quebec, is that it accompanies us to ensure that all steps are well followed so that there is no false start, not undue delay.” “We will follow the process to the letter, without burning the steps”, he said.