Quebec-based mining company Alderon Iron Ore Corp. says it's going to get deeper into the public debate around Muskrat Falls, pushing for the project to proceed.
Alderon is in the final planning stages for an iron ore mine in western Labrador, but says it can't complete the project without power from Muskrat Falls.
Company executive chairman Mark Morabito says the success of Alderon's mine could hinge on winning the public relations battle over the Labrador power project.
"We haven't done a good job of explaining to the public just how important that power development is to mining development in Labrador," Morabito said.
Alderon says there is enough power to get work started in Labrador, but not further planned stages.
"If Muskrat Falls doesn’t go ahead, we’ll get our first phase off the ground, and that’s it," Morabito said. "Everything will come to a stop."
Former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Danny Williams, who announced the Muskrat Falls deal just before exiting politics in late 2010, joined the board of Alderon earlier this year.
'We haven't done a good job of explaining to the public just how important that power development is to mining development in Labrador.' —Alderon executive chairman Mark Morabito
"Whether Danny came on board or not wasn’t going to change our view," Morabito said. "The whole mining industry really has been too quiet on this front."
Morabito says no Muskrat Falls will mean companies like Alderon with mining projects in Labrador will have to buy power from Quebec.
"Those companies will have no choice but to go over to the Quebec side of the border to look for power, and that’s not something we want in Newfoundland and Labrador," he said.
"We want to generate the power here and have the mines get their power from a Newfoundland and Labrador power source, and put the money in the province."
Williams says the demand for power by mining companies is proof of the project’s importance.
"I think it shows some of the naysayers of the Muskrat Falls project that these arguments don’t hold water," he said.
Alderon has threatened to sue the Sierra Club of Canada and a former PC leadership candidate, Brad Cabana, for comments about the company and Muskrat Falls.
They have defended the comments.
Alderon is working to develop its Kami property, located next to the mining towns of Wabush, Labrador City and Fermont, Que.
The property includes 305 claims in Labrador and five Quebec mining titles for a total of 7,625 hectares.