INTERVIEW: ArcelorMittal Mining Canada G.P.
Expansion projects in the mining industry are no easy task. Successfully implementing new objectives into operations requires the successful planning, integration and execution. Under the helm of Steve Wood, ArcelorMittal Mining Canada G.P. is currently perfecting the skill.
Founded in 1957, ArcelorMittal Mining Canada G.P. is the largest mining division of the multinational corporation, ArcelorMittal. The company has become the leading supplier of iron ore and steel in Canada, producing approximately 60 percent of the country’s total production.
Expansion of the future
ArcelorMittal Mining Canada G.P. currently operates two large open-pit mines: Mont-Wright Complex and Fire Lake.
The Mont-Wright mining complex is a highly systematic operation comprised of an open-pit mine, an ore crusher and concentrator facility along with a train loading system. The mine is linked by a company-owned rail to the Port-Cartier industrial complex. Located roughly 55 kilometers from Mont-Wright is the Fire Lake mine. Because of the high demand for iron ore, the mine has become an additional deposit for the ArcelorMittal to operate at.
In 2011, the company undertook one of the largest expansion projects in Quebec. The project, which was completed last year, entailed expanding infrastructure at the Mont-Wright mine to increase production from 16 to 24 million tons of iron ore by end of 2013.
“We hit the run rate of 24 million late last year in November and things look good to make 24 million again this year,” says Steve Wood, president of ArcelorMittal Mining Canada G.P. He continues, “It’s pretty phenomenal to get those rates right after an expansion project. It’s an exciting time in terms of expansion and maximizing benefit of our investment.”
Low carbon world needs $1.7trn in mining investment
According to a new report from consultancy Wood Mackenzie, mining companies need to invest nearly $1.7trn in the next 15 years to help supply enough copper, cobalt, nickel and other metals needed for the shift to a low carbon world.
Cutting carbon emissions
The United States, Britain, Japan, Canada and others raised their targets on cutting carbon emissions to halt global warming at a summit in April hosted by US President Joe Biden.
Meeting those targets will need large-scale deployment of electric vehicles, storage for power generated from renewables and electricity transmission, all of which require industrial materials, such as lightweight aluminium and metals used in batteries such as cobalt and lithium.
Wood Mackenzie analyst Julian Kettle calculated miners needed to invest about $1.7trn during the next 15 years to “deliver a two-degree pathway - where the rise in global temperatures since pre-industrial times is limited to 2°C”.
“At an industry level, there seems to be reticence around investing sufficient capital to develop future supply at the pace and scale demanded by the energy transition (ET),” he said.
Mining firms are wary of making heavy investments after their experience of the last decade when they invested in new capacity just as demand peaked, leading to a collapse in prices and revenues. They also need to please investors, who are unlikely to want to see dividends diverted to capital spending.
Rising demands of investors related environment, social and governance (ESG) issues further add to the challenge.
Australia, Canada and Western Europe carry a low ESG risk but some of the best resources are in high-risk areas, such as Democratic Republic of Congo, which sits on about half the world’s cobalt reserves according to the U.S. Geological Survey. “Given the need to meet tough decarbonisation and ESG targets, Western governments, lenders, investors and consumers will need to get comfortable operating in jurisdictions where ESG issues are more complex,” Kettle said.
Kettle said government support was needed to help miners comply with ESG issues to ensure production from high-risk areas was conducted in an acceptable way to consumers.
“Then, and only then, will the West be able to secure sufficient volumes of the raw materials needed to pursue the energy transition in the timescales envisaged.”