Mont Sorcier is an open-pit magnetite iron ore and vanadium mine proposed to be developed near Chibougamau, in Quebec, Canada.
Vanadium One, a Canadian mineral exploration company based in Toronto, is the owner and developer of the project. It acquired the property from Chibougamau Independent Mines in January 2016, while Globex Mining was the owner until December 2012.
Mining activity at Mont Sorcier dates back to 1920 with initial exploration activities carried out by Dome Mines.
Vanadium One filed a technical report outlining the mineral resource estimates for Mont Sorcier in June 2019, while a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) report was published in April 2020.
The Mont Sorcier project is expected to produce approximately five million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of high-grade iron concentrate grading 65% iron and 0.6% vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) over an estimated mine life of 37 years, with an initial capital expenditure of £264.4m (C$457.5m).
Location, geology, and mineralisation
The Mont Sorcier iron-vanadium project is located in the Roy Township, approximately 20km east of Chibougamau in northern Quebec, Canada. The project area covers approximately 1,919ha with a total of 37 mineral claims.
The Mont Sorcier deposit is located at the north-east end of the Abitibi Greenstone Belt which is mainly composed of archean volcanic and sedimentary rocks. The ore body straddles between the mafic magmatic rocks of the Lac Dore Complex (LDC) to the south and mafic volcanics of the Roy group to the north.
Mineralisation at Mont Sorcier occurs in two zones namely the North Zone and the South Zone with a strike length of approximately 4km and 3km, respectively. The thickness of mineralisation in both the zones ranges between 100m and 200m.
Iron and vanadium resources at Mont Sorcier
The Mont Sorcier mine is estimated to hold 614 million tonnes (Mt) of indicated and inferred resources with a potential to recover 213Mt of ore concentrate grading 65% Fe, 0.6% V2O5, and less than 2% titanium (TiO2).
The open-pit mining method involving the traditional drill, blast, truck and loader operations will be employed to extract ore at the Mont Sorcier mine. The initial mining fleet will include two large excavators, a wheel loader, and up to 14 haul trucks.
The North Zone ore body is scheduled for mining for a period of 33 years while the South Zone will be mined for 15 years.
The North Zone pit will reach a maximum depth of 40m with a haul ramp of 33m, while the pit width will be up to 160m. The pit will cover 126ha with a crest length of 5km and the crest elevation varying between 410m and 550m.
The South Zone pit will be divided into two sections with one of the sections reaching a depth of 110m and the other at 130m.
The run-of-the-mine (ROM) ore will be sent to a nearby processing facility capable of treating 15Mt of ore to produce 5Mt of iron concentrate a year.
The ore will undergo two-stage crushing in a primary jaw crusher and a secondary cone crusher before passing through a low-intensity magnetic separation (LIMS) circuit. The non-magnetic tailings from the LIMS unit will be transferred to the tailings thickener, while the magnetic tailings will be transferred to the classification cyclones for the production of high-quality magnetic concentrate.
The resultant concentrate will undergo dewatering, drying, and thickening before storage at the loading area. The Vanadium metal from the concentrate can be easily extracted by a blast furnace.
The Mont Sorcier property can be accessed via an all-weather gravel road from Highway QC-167.
An 18km railroad spur line to the site is also proposed to be built from the existing railhead at Chibougamau. The proposed track is a single line with the capacity to transport 120 gondola-type railcars.
A 315 kV/35 kV substation will be built near the concentrator to distribute electrical power to the project site.
Water is expected to be supplied via a pump house that will be constructed at a small lake which is located close to the proposed area for the concentrator facility.
CSA Global, a mining consultancy based in Australia, was engaged for the preparation of the PEA of the Mont Sorcier iron and vanadium project.