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Iron Ore Company Of Canada


Even before it became part of the Rio Tinto mining family, Iron Ore Company (IOC) of Canada was a giant in the industry. For more than 50 years, IOC has been one of the largest iron ore mining concerns in North America and the largest producer of iron ore pellets in Canada. Now, however, the company has the added strength of Rio Tinto behind it. With the support and expertise of the world’s third-largest mining company behind it, IOC stands ready to make the most of its already superior assets and work force as it begins its second half-century as one of the top companies in the industry.

The history of IOC begins with the discovery of a significant iron formation in an area of Labrador in northeastern Canada. It was found to contain in excess of 400 million tons of iron ore, and a group of mining interests teamed up to form IOC in 1949 to take advantage of the resource. Between 1949 and 1954, the company undertook a massive effort – including what was at the time the largest civilian airlift in history – to build the infrastructure necessary to mine the iron.

The company’s efforts included the construction of a 573-kilometer main line railway linking the Schefferville mining area to a shipping terminal at Sept-Iles, the construction of two hydroelectric power plants and a shipping and receiving terminal capable of handling 10 million tons of ore production annually. The first shipment of iron ore left the Schefferville yard in 1954, and shortly thereafter IOC became the largest Canadian iron ore producer.

In 1958, the company announced plans to undertake a new mining and concentrating project in Labrador City, to be known as the Carol Lake project. That project officially opened in 1962, and by 1967 it had expanded to six lines producing nearly 10 million tons of iron ore per year. In 1989, IOC extracted its billionth ton of ore from the mine, which is still in operation today. The company’s Schefferville mine closed in 1982.

“The [Carol Lake] site still has a significant resource base available,” the company says. “Annual capacity at the Carol Concentrator is 17 million tons of iron ore concentrate, of which 13 million tons can be pelletized and the balance processed into various grades of concentrate products.”

In 2000, Rio Tinto acquired a majority share in IOC after purchasing shares from Australian company North Limited. Rio Tinto currently holds more than 56 percent of IOC’s shares, with Mitsubishi and the Iron Ore Royalty Income Corp. holding the remainder. In its modern incarnation, IOC supplies iron ore pellets to the steel industry worldwide, with customers based in North America, Europe and Asia.

Employees First

Although the company’s resources and strength in mining and processing iron ore give it a significant edge in the marketplace, IOC says it understands that the core of its success begins and ends with its people. That is why IOC spends considerable effort to give its employees reason to be proud of their work and remain loyal to the company.

“IOC offers a challenging work environment with many opportunities for growth,” the company says. “We believe our employees come first.”

Even with more than 1,700 employees, IOC’s work force averages more than 14 years of service. The company says this is because it provides them with excellent benefits as well as chances for advancement. In return, this inspires employees to give their best effort. “The IOC team is one of the industry’s best,” the company says. “They’re a big part of the reason why our iron ore is in demand around the world, and why we’ve reached the milestone of a billion tons of ore mined. We’re committed to our team, committed to pairing the right people with advanced technology.”

A Safe Environment

A major component of keeping employees satisfied and productive is keeping them safe, and IOC says it works tirelessly to ensure that it provides employees with a safe working environment. “The people that go to work every day at IOC expect to do so in a safe and healthy work environment,” the company says. “This is not an option but a minimum requirement.

“Creating a culture in which everyone contributes responsibly and proactively to their own safety and the safety of their co-workers requires many things to come together: awareness, information and skills, as well as the safe installation, operation and maintenance of facilities and equipment,” the company continues.

“It also requires making safety a value even higher than that of such key areas as quality, productivity and cost efficiency,” it adds. “In fact, we believe that the safest facilities are the most productive, have the lowest costs and consistently deliver the best products.”

Environmental Stewardship 

IOC’s conscientious attitude toward safety extends to how it deals with environmental issues, as well. The company says it believes it has a special responsibility as a member of the mining sector to care for the environment and keep it safe.

“IOC recognizes that the mining industry has a direct impact on the environment,” the company explains. “We extract ore from the ground. We process it using energy and water. We generate waste, emissions and greenhouse gases.

“Through the entire process, we recognize that we have a responsibility to minimize, and eliminate where possible, these impacts,” it adds.

“While the first step to continuously improving environmental performance is awareness, at IOC we go much further,” the company continues. “Acting on the commitments in our Environment, Safety and Health Policy, we assess our impact on ecosystems, evaluate future risks, design management systems to mitigate impacts, establish challenging objectives and measure our performance against key success indicators.” EMI

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