October 2022
Canada is in a unique position in which it exports almost all of its domestically produced steel raw materials and imports pellets, coke, and coal from the US to satisfy most of its steelmaking needs. Canada’s iron ore supply is expected to reach 60Mt in 2022, up from 58.3Mt in 2021.

Canadian production is expected to reach 70Mt in medium to long term, mainly from the expansion of Champion Iron’s Lake Bloom iron ore mine in Quebec and potentially from Mary River iron ore mine phase 2 in Nunavut. 

Canada's government is committed to carbon neutrality by 2050. The government expects that the carbon emissions drop by 40–45% by 2030 compared with 2005 levels. To realize the targets, Canada's government has launched Net-Zero Advisory Body (NZAB) in 2021 to advise the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. The country insists that DRI and critical minerals are key factors to achieve the targets. Therefore, there are a strong projects pipeline with the ability to produce high grade products that could be acceptable in the DR grade market.



Champion Iron

Champion Iron has received government approval for an expansion of its Lake Bloom mine in Quebec, Canada. The expansion will double the mine's production capacity to 15Mtpa and expand the mine life of 20 years. The start of commercial production of phase 2 is expected by the end of 2022. The company is planning to invest C$400m (US$312m) in the expansion project. In addition, the company will need to pay C$20m (US$15.6m) for financial compensation for the loss of fish and wetland habitats as nearly 800Mt of mining waste will be deposited in eight lakes.

Champion Iron’s iron ore products is a cleaner supply source for the global steel industry, due to the company’s use of renewable energy technologies. The company is trying to meet global emission reduction targets. The company has committed to reduce GHG emissions by 40% by 2030, using a 2014 emission intensity baseline.

In May 2022, Champion signed a definitive purchase agreement to acquire Pointe Noire iron ore pellet plant in Quebec, Canada for C$2.5m (US$2m). The plant is located directly adjacent to port facilities that Champion currently uses. It was commissioned in 1965 with production rate of 6Mtpa, and was put on care and maintenance in 2013. In the meantime, Champion signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a major international steelmaker to complete a feasibility study to evaluate restarting operations at the pellet plant to produce DR grade pellet. The proposed acquisition represents a strategic opportunity for the company to further deploy its vision to contribute to the green steelmaking supply chain.


Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC)

IOC’s Carol Lake mine, concentrator, pellet plant complex is adjacent to Labrador City in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, and around 420km by rail from its export port on the lower Saint Lawrence River. The complex commenced production in 1963 and is owned and operated by the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC). Shareholders in IOC are Rio Tinto (58.7%), Mitsubishi Corporation (26.2%) and the Labrador Iron Ore Royalty Corporation (15.1%). 

The Carol Lake mine produces ~18Mtps of high grade iron ore concentrate, of which ~10Mtpa is feed to Carol Lake pellet plant to produce ~ 4Mtpa DR pellet and ~6Mtpa of BF pellet. The DR pellet production output could potentially increase output to 5Mtpa by 2025. The major customers are from Middle East countries, Trinidad and the US.

In October 2021, Rio Tinto released a longer term decarbonisation strategy. It aims to reduce its Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 15% and 50% by 2025 and 2030, respectively, compared with 2018 levels. Rio Tinto is also focused on developing technologies such as hydrogen or plasma torches which can use renewable energy to potentially replace fossil fuels for heat and steam. Four plasma torches were ordered in 2021 for a trial at IOC’s pellet plant.



ArcelorMittal invests C$205m (US$166m) in its PortCartier pellet plant in Quebec, Canada. The construction phase of the project in Port-Cartier is scheduled to begin in mid-2023, and construction is expected to be completed before the end of 2025. After the project is completed, the plant will convert its entire 10Mtpa pellet production to DR pellets and become one of the world’s largest DR-grade pellet plants. The project includes the implementation of a flotation system that will enable a significant reduction of silica in the iron ore pellets, facilitating the production of a very high-quality pellet. The most of DR pellets are used in ArcelorMittal’s Canadian DRI plants. It also shipped ~1Mtpa of DR pellets to its DRI plant in Hamburg, Germany.

ArcelorMittal’s Dofasco DRI is planned to be built at ArcelorMittal Dofasco Steel, which is located at the western end of Lake Ontario on the St Lawrence Seaway in Hamilton, Ontario. ArcelorMittal Dofasco will transition to steelmaking via DRI and EAF route. It will carry a lower carbon footprint and respective capacities of 2Mtpa and 2.4Mtpa. They are tentatively scheduled to go on stream before the end of 2028. The new DRI furnace will run initially on natural gas but will be ready to use 100% hydrogen when it becomes available, according to ArcelorMittal's announcement. By using pure hydrogen as the iron smelting agent, the company could make CO2-free iron. The investment is contingent on support from the governments of Canada and Ontario. The Government of Canada announced it will invest C$400m (US$321m) in the project.


Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation

Baffinland Iron Mines’ Mary River iron ore mine was allowed to temporarily produce between 4.2Mtpa to 6Mtpa from 2018 to 2021. Baffinland submitted an emergency order in May 2022, requesting to truck and ship 6Mt of iron ore in 2022, in compliance with all environmental permit limits. The Canadian federal government approved a production increase in 2022, following a recommendation from the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) in September. The government said that it agrees with NIRB’s recommendation that the potential for significant negative environmental and socio-economic impacts from the proposal can be effectively managed.

Baffinland is still awaiting a separate decision from the federal government on its Phase 2 expansion project at Mary River. NIRB rejected it in May 2022. The Board said that the expansion would significantly affects ecosystems for marine mammals. The proposed Phase 2 expansion project would involve constructing a 110km railway from the mine site to the port site, adding a second ore dock at the port and increasing production to 12Mtpa along the northern transportation corridor. The total investment is estimated at ~US$1.3.