Nfld. & Labrador

Kami mine project could break ground by 2020

A memorandum of understanding was signed between Alderon Iron Ore and Schneider Electric Canada for help in raising the $1 billion it needs to start the Kami mine project.

Alderon Iron Ore is still raising the $1 billion in capital it needs to start the project

Alderon Iron Ore Co president and CEO Tayfun Eldem says work on the Kami mine project will start — as soon as they raise $1 billion. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

The long-awaited Kami mine project is ready to break ground, just as soon as Alderon Iron Ore Corp. finds the $1 billion it needs to make it happen. 

The mine was announced in 2013, but shelved the next year when the price of iron ore collapsed.

"What we are in the process of doing is appointing a financial advisor to take the charge on helping us arrange the financing to be able to get the project off the ground," said Alderon president and CEO Tayfun Eldem. 

It's still not clear when work on the project will start, but Eldem said the company expects to announce the financial advisor appointment "in a matter of days," now that iron ore has rebounded as a commodity.

"We're optimistic, and if all of that works out I'm aiming to have things in place to allow us to start construction sometime early in 2020," Eldem said.

A map showing the proposed Kami mine project in western Labrador. (Alderon)

The Kami project is forecast to last about 24 years, Eldem said, but "if we could leverage all of the resources that are within our holdings we could be looking at a mine life in the 40-year range at this point."

Last week Alderon announced a partnership with Schneider Electric Canada, and a memorandum of understanding was signed for both the purchasing and leasing of equipment, as well as help with raising capital.

The project needs automation technology, process control equipment and electrical equipment, which it will get from Schneider Electric Canada. Schneider also has technology to help reduce the time to market.

Eldem said Schneider is a global company, with headquarters in France, but a number of manufacturing facilities around the world.

"That then opens up the door for us to be able to tap into export credit agency funding for equipment that are sourced out of these jurisdictions," he said.

Alderon has signed a memorandum of understanding with Schneider Electric Canada, to get help starting the Kami mine project. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Eldem also put a focus on Alderon's ties to western Labrador.

"Some of our shareholders from the public actually come from the region, so we've enjoyed strong support from the community as well as the municipalities of Labrador City and Wabush," he said. "If we play our cards right we're in a position to deliver on that commitment that we made to the community sometime ago."

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Alyson Samson is a journalist working with the CBC in Newfoundland and Labrador.