May 17, 2020

A Look at Baffinland's Plan for its Newest Iron Ore Mine

Baffinlands Mary River Mine project
Mary River
3 min
Truck at the Milne Inlet
Baffinlands Mary River Mine project is set to begin the first phase of ore extraction this summer, upon the commission of open water season in 2015. Con...

Baffinland’s Mary River Mine project is set to begin the first phase of ore extraction this summer, upon the commission of open water season in 2015. Containing approximately 365 million tonnes of high-grade, direct ship, lump and fine iron ore, the property’s 365 tonnes of material can be mined, crushed, and screened with no other processing or tailings required.

Using approximately 55 ships during open water season, Baffinland is estimating to ship 3.5 million tonnes of ore per year though Milne Inlet, using its vessels to carry between 70,000 to 90,000 tonnes, in addition to sealift supplies and fuel. The company plans to use the open water season to its advantage by constructing its own dock, which will carry the ore on to the ships for transport.

Recently gaining approval from Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Bernard Valcourt last week, Baffinland’s Mary River project has adhered to advice from the Nunavut Impact Review Board and is excited to break ground early next year. Located in Canada’s undeveloped northern wilderness, the mine is situated on North Baffin Island in Qilqtani Region of Nunavut, and is said to be one of the world’s largest and richest undeveloped iron ore project in the world. This project will embrace construction, operation closure and reclamation of an open pit mine, and is estimated to produce between 18 and 30 million tonnes of ore per year.

Greg Missal, vice-president of corporate affairs with Baffinland, said the company was pleased with the final terms and conditions imposed on the mine and will start mining iron ore at the site this summer or fall. He commented, “It’ll start to be trucked up to Milne Inlet and it’ll be ready to be loaded onto ships during the open water season of 2015.”

In addition to the company’s success with the Mary River Project, Baffinland was awarded the 2014 Canadian North Nunavut Mining Award recognizing their contributions to the mining, exploration, social development of the Nunavut region.

“The Mary River Project has the ability to greatly contribute to the development of infrastructure, skills training, and employment and business opportunities for the people of Nunavut,” said Tom. “The success of the project, however, relies on the cooperation of all stakeholders, working together to achieve mutual benefits from the ground up.”

The Mary River Project will provide unprecedented increases in own-source revenues to the Government of Nunavut and to Inuit birthright corporations Nunavut Tunngavik inc. and the Nunavut Planning Commission’s board planning principals, policies and goals, as well as the Nunavut Exploration and Mining Strategy. In addition to economic benefits, the company is taking extra care to replenish its mining environment and respecting the lives of those living within the natural wonders of the Arctic Circle. With a total of nine iron ore deposits, the life of the Mary River Project mine is expected to be more than 20 years for the first deposit alone. 

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Jul 20, 2021

British Lithium Pressured Due To Calls for Electric Cars

3 min
The ever-increasing need for electric vehicles is mounting pressure on British Lithium as the 2035 deadline inches closer

The British demand for lithium is set to reach 75,000 tonnes by 2035 as the government works towards their ban on the sale of high-polluting diesel and petrol vehicles within the UK. This comes as automakers worldwide continue to insist on the benefits electric vehicles will have on slowing the rate of climate change. 

It is estimated that the UK will require 50,000-60,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year by 2035 for battery production to satisfy government needs. This is assuming production remains at 1.2 million vehicles per year, and the amount of lithium required does not increase.

British Lithium, which hopes to begin constructing a quarry to produce 20,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year in a $400 million investment, are not without competitors, both within the UK and abroad. 

Competition For Lithium Rises In Europe 

After only five years after its initial launch, Cornish Lithium is setting its sights on becoming a UK powerhouse in mining lithium, aiming to begin commercial production in under four years. Jeremy Wrathall, a former investment banker and current managing director of Cornish Lithium, had the future in mind when founding the company. 

“In 2016, I started to think about the electric vehicle revolution and what that would mean for metal demand, and I started to think about lithium,” he said in an interview with AFP. “A friend of mine mentioned lithium being identified in Cornwall, and I just wondered if that was a sort of unrecognised thing in the UK.”

Lithium was first discovered in Cornwall around 1864 and has not been mined again since 1914 when it was produced as an ingredient in fireworks. Now, however, Cornish Lithium is reportedly in the testing stage to see if the metal can be produced commercially to meet the growing demand required for the electric car sector. 

Despite Cornwall’s close historic ties to mining lithium, Wrathall insists that the project is purely commercial. 

Cornish Mining Revival For Lithium Production

“It’s not a mission that drives me to the point of being emotional or romantic,” he says. “It’s vitally important that we do get this technology otherwise Europe has got no lithium supply.”

The European Commission has also stated their goal to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 to aid the environment. That being said, the majority of lithium extraction currently relies on power provided by environmentally damaging fossil fuels─a slight contradiction. 

Alex Keynes, from the Brussels-based lobby group Transport & Environment, is adamant that mining for lithium should be done sustainably. 

“Our view is that medium-to-long term, the majority of materials including lithium should come from efficient and clean recycling.

“Europe from a strategic point of view should be looking at securing its own supply of lithium.”

Despite growing competition from abroad, British Lithium Chairman, Roderick Smith, continues to place importance on the mining of lithium within the UK. 

“Imagine what the UK economy would look like if we lost our automotive industry,” Smith says. “The stakes are high for the UK.”

Smith expects the UK to compete with other European countries to secure a lithium battery plant in the near future.

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