The Lac Otelnuk Iron Ore Project is located in Quebec, Canada. (Credit: at
The map shows the location of the project. (Credit: MetalQuest Mining Inc.)
Lac Otelnuk Iron Ore Project Plant Layout. (Credit: MetalQuest Mining Inc.)

Lac Otelnuk is a planned open pit iron ore mine located in Labrador Trough in Northern Quebec, Canada.

The project is 100% owned by MetalQuest Mining (MQM), a mineral exploration company based in Canada.

Lac Otelnuk is surrounded by several projects including assets of Rio Tinto, Tata Steel and Arcelor Mittal among others.

A Feasibility Study of the project was completed in March 2015. Previous expenditures at the project total around $150m.

The subsequent plans include completing project due diligence, and MQM aims to form a technical team and establish a joint venture partner to fund the project.

The project is expected to entail an investment of $14.19bn, including $9.38bn for Phase I and $4.8bn for Phase II.

Lac Otelnuk Location and Site Details

The Lac Otelnuk Iron Ore Project is located in Nunavik. The site is situated approximately 165km by air northwest of the Schefferville village in Quebec on the border of Labrador.

The project comprises 1,398 contiguous mineral claims encompassing an area of approximately 673km2.

According to the 2015 report, there is no road access to the property. Multiple lakes on the north and south parts of the project can be accessed from Schefferville and Kuujjuaq via fixed-wing float or ski-equipped aircraft.

Ownership History

The project’s 129 original claims were acquired by Adriana in 2005 from private company Bedford Resource Partners.

The additional contiguous claims were staked by Adriana later in 2005 and through to 2013.

In January 2012, Adriana signed a joint venture agreement with WISCO International Resources Development & Investment Limited for the development and operation of the Lac Otelnuk Project.

This agreement resulted in the formation of Lac Otelnuk Mining (LOM), in which WISCO had 60% interest and Adriana held 40% interest.

In November 2022, El Nino Ventures (now MetallQuest Mining) acquired 100% interest in 191 claims within the project. Overall, the company owns 306 claims in the block including the concentration of 75 claims in the middle that will cover the main resource.

Geology and Mineralisation

The project is situated in the Churchill Province of the Labrador Trough (Labrador-Quebec Fold Belt) adjacent to Archean basement gneiss.

The principal iron formation unit in the property is called Sokoman Formation. The Sokoman rocks are overlain by the Menihek Formation shales and mudstones.

The overall thickness of the iron-bearing stratigraphic package from the top of Unit 2 to top of bottom of Subunit 4b (top of Unit 5) ranges from 100m to 120m.

According to the 2015 Project Feasibility Study, the iron formation is generally northwest-southeast striking, flat-lying, monoclinic to gently inclined and rolling with an average easterly dip of 5o.

The deposits of Lac Otelnuk comprise iron formations of the Lake Superior-type, which consists of banded sedimentary rocks composed principally of bands of magnetite and haematite within quartz (chert)-rich rock.

Variable amounts of silicate, carbonate, and sulphide lithofacies were also noticed.

Mineralisation in the iron formation consists mainly of magnetite (Fe3O4) and haematite (Fe2O3).  Some iron also occurs in siderite and ferro-ankerite.

Lac Otelnuk Mineral Reserves

The total measured and indicated mineral resource estimate for the Lac Otelnuk Iron Project is 20.64 billion tonnes grading 29.8% total iron (Fe), 25.4% Davis Tube Weight Recovery (DTWR) and 17.6% magnetic Fe.

The project is estimated to contain combined (proven and probable) mineral reserves of 4,993Mt grading 28.7% total Fe head, 26.5% DTWR, and 18.3% magnetic Fe.

Mining and Ore Processing

Open pit conventional mining method is selected for the iron ore project. The method will include drilling and blasting and a truck and shovel operation.

The ore and waste rock will be drilled, blasted, and then loaded into a fleet of rigid frame trucks which will transport the material either to the primary crushers or the low grade stockpiles. The waste rock will be hauled to the mine rock piles.

The mine plan envisages a 30-year life producing 30Mt/y of concentrate in Phase I and 50Mt/y of concentrate in Phase II.

Mining activity will commence in the south-eastern corner of the open pit and shift to northern part of the open pit in Year 7.

The process plant will treat magnetite ore to produce a concentrate. It will involve multiple grinding and milling stages and a conventional magnetite recovery circuit with desliming thickeners and magnetic separators to deliver a pellet feed iron concentrate.

The processing plant will treat approximately 188.7Mt/y of taconite ore with an average magnetite content of 18.2% and approximately 28.7% Fe, producing concentrate with 68% Fe content and less than 4% silica.

Project Infrastructure

The iron ore project infrastructure will include access roads, power transmission and distribution, communication and automation systems, support infrastructure and utilities, camp site accommodations, and airstrip.

The other infrastructure includes tailings management, dams, water management, stockpiles, concentrate transport (PDS), and port facilities.

The power is supplied to the mine from two main mine electrical substations, one for each phase of production. The substations are connected to the mine’s main transformer via 34.5kV overhead power lines.

Both substations are equipped with two 15MVA/20MVA transformers.

Key Contractors involved

A Feasibility Study for the LOM Project had been completed by SNC Lavalin, while Met-Chem Canada prepared the National Instrument 43-101 Technical Report.

Eagle Mapping conducted an aerial photographic survey of the property.

For the technical report, Met-Chem drew from the WGM reports on the resources estimate as well as the market study carried out by SNL Metals and Mining on the project in 2014.