The Bloom Lake iron ore mine located in Normanville Township, Kaniapiskau County, Quebec, Canada, is being expanded (referred to as second phase) to increase the mine production by installing a second concentrator plant.
Champion Iron purchased the Bloom Lake assets through its subsidiary Quebec Iron Ore from Cliffs Natural Resources, in April 2016. The project was re-commissioned in February 2018 and produced 6.99 million wet metric tonnes of 66.4% iron ore concentrate in its first year of operation.
Quebec Iron Ore was originally 63.2% owned by Champion Iron, with the remaining 36.8% held by Ressources Québec. In May 2019, Champion Iron entered an agreement with Ressources Québec to acquire the remaining stake and gain complete ownership of the property.
The mine output is expected to increase from the current 7.4Mtpa to 16Mtpa, following the expansion.
The expansion is expected to involve a total investment of C$633.8m (£376m) including security deposits. Construction on the project is expected to take 21 months for completion.
Bloom Lake mine location, geology, and mineralisation
The Bloom Lake mining property is located in north-eastern part of the province of Quebec, adjacent to the Labrador/Newfoundland border, in Normanville Township, Kaniapiskau County.
The Bloom Lake iron ore deposit is hosted within the Fermont Iron Ore District (FIOD), at the southern end of Labrador Trough within the Grenville Province. The deposit, including the Bloom Lake West property, is hosted within the Parautochtonous Deformation Belt of the Grenville Province.
The Bloom Lake deposits lie 24km south-west of Labrador City and 8km north of the Mont Wright range, which is made up of specular hematite-magnetite iron formation.
Iron is predominantly concentrated within 5km-6km of the western structure and the major zones of potential ore are mostly the hematite-quartz facies.
The enriched magnetite zones identified in the region are mostly in the upper portion of the formations in close contact with the amphibolite mass.
Bloom Lake mine reserves
The reserves of Bloom Lake mine are estimated at 807 million tonnes (Mt) grading 29.0% iron (Fe), as of July 2019.
Mining and ore processing
Conventional open-pit mining methods, involving electric hydraulic shovels, wheel loaders, and mine trucks, are proposed to be used at the Bloom Lake mine expansion project.
The project will include two main mining areas - the Chief’s Peak and the West pit. Mining of the Bloom Lake project is planned with six phases that include a starter phase (PH1A), intermediary phase (PH1B), and a final pushback (PH2) in both the mining areas.
Phases 1A and 1B comprise the first phase of the mine development, while the final push backs are part of the second phase.
The key difference from the phase one is the redirection of mids spiral stage concentrate to the magnetic separation circuit and the introduction of scavenger cleaner up-current classifiers (UCC). The redirection of mids spiral stage concentrate will avoid the transfer of coarse silica to the cleaner UCCs, thereby increasing recovery.
The second phase is designed to process ore at a nominal rate of 2,650tph and produce 7.75Mtpa of concentrate. The ore will undergo two stages of crushing, with the resultant material transported to an overland crushed ore conveyor.
The crushed ore will be grinded in an autogenous grinding (AG) mill via the mill feed conveyor and then discharged to scalping screens. The screen oversize is conveyed back to the AG mill, while the undersize is pumped to the classification screens’ feed distributors.
The phase two separation circuit will comprise rougher, middlings, scavenger, and magnetic cleaner spirals. It also includes cleaner and scavenger-cleaner Upcurrent classifiers, and low and wet high-intensity magnetic separators.
The design is works to remove gangue material, which are mostly silica, from hematite and magnetite in order to achieve the desired 82.5% Fe recovery.
The material will pass through gravity, magnetic, and concentrate filtration circuits to produce iron ore concentrate. The final iron ore concentrate is proposed to be transported by rail to the Pointe-Noire port terminal.
The Bloom Lake mine expansion will make use of the entire mine infrastructure used for phase one. Few upgrades will be undertaken to accommodate the new mine plan requirements.
The phase two expansion will add a second silo with a capacity of 30,000t, linked to the existing load-out station.
Groupe BBA prepared the feasibility study report of the expansion project with assistance from WSP Canada.
Soutex prepared the mineral processing, metallurgical testing designs as part of the feasibility study.