March/April 2006

Quebec Cartier Mining

By H. Ednie

The reclaimer at the port

Continuous improvement is the primary focus at Quebec Cartier Mining, a company that recognizes its successes lie with its employees. One of the leading producers of iron ore products in North America, QCM is determined to forge a long-term future.

QCM produces iron ore concentrates and pellets from its mine at Mont-Wright in the Normanville Township in northeastern Quebec. Fermont, the closest town that supports the mine operations, is located 16 kilometres east of the mine area. QCM has estimated its Proven and Probable Reserves and Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources at Mont- Wright to be 928.1 million tonnes and 653 million tonnes, respectively. Its pellet plant, located 400 kilometres due south of the mine in Port-Cartier, is capable of producing in excess of 9 million tonnes annually of low-silica, self-flux, and acid blast furnace pellets, and the Mont-Wright concentrator boasts an approximate capacity of 16 million tonnes per year (assuming a headgrade of 30 per cent), and produces a variety of concentrates to meet customers’ needs. The company also owns the Cartier Railway Co., a 416-kilometre railroad that links its mine to its deep water port at Port-Cartier.

Mining operations at Mont-Wright use industry standard technology in conventional large-scale open pits to mine approximately 40 million tonnes per year of ore with grades averaging about 30 per cent iron. The plan includes operations in four separate pits, all located within a seven kilometre haulage distance from the concentrator.

At Port-Cartier, the pellet plant has two lines with a current capacity of 8.5 to 9 million tonnes of pellets annually, but has produced up to 9.2 million tonnes. Set up to produce four separate types of pellets depending on market requirements, the flowsheet uses wet ball mills to regrind the concentrates, balling discs to agglomerate the concentrates, and the pellets are fired in two traveling grate furnaces. Coke breeze is added and supplies about 70 per cent of the thermal energy needed to fire the pellets, with the balance supplied by heavy oil. The pellet plant can also upgrade concentrate feed with hydraulic classifiers and is able to enhance the pellet quality.

Focus on the customer

Employee involvement has helped create solutions to meet customers’ demands and withstand market slumps. Guy Dufresne, president and CEO, QCM, knows the strength of QCM is its employees. Since joining the company, he has ensured employees understand the end uses of the products, making it easier to try to find solutions.

Quality is one aspect of the customer program. QCM was one of the first iron ore producers to be certified with ISO 9001. Now having recertified about three times, there were no non-conformities the last two times. “It shows an application and rigour,” Dufresne explained. “Our employees are committed, because it’s important to the customer.”

The second major aspect of the customer program is that employees have met the clients. QCM employees have visited customer operations, to see what is produced, what it is used for, and how. And customers visit the QCM operations and meet the employees, such as on annual customer day. “When our employees know what our products are for, it is easier for them to try to find solutions,” Dufresne added.

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