Nfld. & Labrador

Rio Tinto plans to double Labrador mine output

Mining giant Rio Tinto intends to increase production dramatically at the Iron Ore Company of Canada site in western Labrador.
The Iron Ore Company of Canada mine at Labrador City is poised for significant expansion. (CBC )

Mining giant Rio Tinto intends to increase production dramatically at the Iron Ore Company of Canada site in western Labrador.

Alan Davies, Rio Tinto's president of international operations in iron ore, said the company is starting work on a tentative plan to more than double production, from 23 million tonnes to 50 million tonnes.

Alan Davies: 'It is a challenging program but we've got a superb team here at IOC.'

"We are going to study that over the course of the coming year and, hopefully, at the back end of 2015 or so we will be bringing on more tonnage," said Davies, who spoke to an audience Monday at the Arts and Culture Centre in Labrador City.

The company has already undertaken one major expansion program, expected to be completed by 2013. Work will now start on a feasibility study for the latest project.

The expansion comes amid mounting global demand for iron ore.

"It is a challenging program but we've got a superb team here at IOC — [a] very, very talented group of people," Davies told CBC News.

"I was out with a haul truck driver who was totally committed and wanting to see us expand."

If the project is deemed viable and is approved, the extra production will require a new concentrator, new rail lines for shipping and hundreds of new employees in Labrador City, which was effectively built as a company town in the early 1960s.

The expansion may pose a strain for Labrador City, which already has a significant housing crunch.

IOC president and chief executive officer Zoe Yujnovich said these issues are being addressed.

"We are constantly evaluating how we are going to [house] new people that are coming into the area and accommodations is just one aspect of that," she said.

Plans are in the works for two new apartment buildings.

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