IOC enters the Moss Pit (finally) at Wabush 3 mine

IOC enters the Moss Pit (finally) at Wabush 3 mine
IOC president Clayton Walker (left) helps Premier Dwight Ball cut the ribbon to open the Moss Pit. Photo courtesy IOC

Development could extend the life of Wabush 3 mine by a half a century

THE IRON ORE COMPANY HAS opened a new pit at the Wabush 3 iron ore mine in Labrador.

The company announced the official opening of its Moss Pit in late September. It cost the company $79 million and will be fully integrated into IOC’s overall operations at the mine site in Labrador City. That’s a plus because it will utilize maintenance, ore delivery, processing and tailings management facilities as well as other aspects of the company’s infrastructure and activities in the region. IOC says first ore from the Moss Pit is expected in the third quarter of 2018.

The opening of the pit comes after a rocky spring for IOC and Wabush 3. A two-month-old strike by members of the United Steelworkers Union at the mine was finally put to bed in late May when 79 per cent of union members voted in favour of a new contract that included pension increases and a higher cap on medical coverage.

The pit took 15 months to complete and 70 people were employed on the project. It’s named after Dr. A.E. Moss. He played a leading role in the initial exploration and development of the mining operations in Labrador City that IOC now runs. Moss also helped cut the Smokey Mountain ski hill near the Wabush 3 mine. As part of this development, new chair lifts are being installed at the ski hill and it will be opened this season.

The opening of the pit is a big day for the Labrador City area and IOC. Wabush Mines has endured plenty of ups and downs in recent years: the collapse of iron ore prices in 2015, the shelving of the Wabush 3 expansion, and frequent labour disputes between the union and IOC. But IOC president and CEO Clayton Walker, who replaced Kelly Sanders in November of 2016, has presided over a calmer period at the mine.

“Not only will the Moss Pit extend the life of our operations, it will play an important role in ramping up our production levels and increasing our competitiveness in the global market at a time when our product is in high demand and securing significant premiums,” Walker said in a Sept. 25 press release.

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