A group of 90 iron ore processors from Labrador and Cote Nord gathered in Sept-Iles on April 17 for the first meeting of the Canadian Mineral Processors
’ Cote Nord-Labrador branch.
Organizers hope the new branch will help foster communication between different iron ore processors and sites and help solve common issues. “The best way to use knowledge is to share it with others and to be able to benefit from others’ knowledge,” says David Cataford, chair of the new CMP Cote Nord-Labrador branch and a manager with Cliffs Natural Resources.
The branch also aims to address current expansion in the local iron ore industry and to promote careers in iron ore processing to students.
“Processors had been involved with the Val d’Or CMP, but there were few discussions that actually touched the reality of Cote Nord-Labrador,” says Cataford. Iron ore is the primary material in Cote Nord-Labrador; in Val d’Or, it is gold. Iron ore and gold are processed differently: gold processing is primarily chemical, while iron ore processing is mostly mechanical. Different materials and different processes necessitate different discussions, so Cote Nord-Labrador needed its own CMP branch.
While it is primarily one material that is processed in Cote Nord-Labrador, the area encompasses two provinces and two languages. “One of the big challenges is that we’re sort of in between in languages and we want to have a meeting that doesn’t exclude anyone,” Cataford explains. To accommodate all members, all presentations at the first meeting were bilingual.
Jean Hébert, a director at Metso Minerals Canada, who was also at the meeting, echoes the emphasis on inclusion. “Iron ore has no border between Quebec and Labrador,” he says. “The new branch brings together iron ore processors: it’s about collaboration and cohesion, not provinces or languages.”
According to Cataford, in addition to interest from participants, the new branch also attracted an incredible response from sponsors, including both private entities and the Quebec provincial government. Sponsorship money will be used to fund scholarships to attract students to the mineral processing industry. The branch plans to have members make presentations at schools, as well as to create a website specifically for students.
In the future, branch meetings will be scheduled annually, and site visits and industry exhibitors may be on the agenda. Hébert predicts branch membership will triple over the next five years. “Hopefully there will be more involvement from government, especially considering the Quebec government’s Plan Nord program, aimed at increasing economic development in the north of the province,” he says.
Both Hébert and Cataford are thankful to CMP for the opportunity to get the new Cote Nord-Labrador branch off the ground and running. And Hébert feels that the people and companies working in the mineral processing industry in the area also merit thanks. “They’ve been at it for 35 years, we owe them a lot of respect,” he says. “We’re in a good spot.”