Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

Port of Churchill concludes an agreement to ship ore

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The port of Churchill has four berths.

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The Arctic Gateway group has reached an agreement with mining company Hudbay to ship ore to the international market from the Port of Churchill, in northern Manitoba. Up to 20,000 tonnes of zinc concentrate will be sent to the port in 2024.

The ore will come from Hudbay's Lalor mine, which is located at Snow Lake in northern Manitoba. The 20,000 tonnes represent more than a third of this mine's zinc concentrate production in 2022, which was 55,381 tonnes.

The Ore will be loaded into trucks and transported from the mine to Flin Flon, where it will be loaded onto a train bound for The Pas.

Arctic Gateway Group CEO Michael Woelcke says new facilities will need to be built at the port to store the ore. The group will also rent the equipment needed to load the ore into a boat.

It's important because it's the first contract to ship a critical mineral in more than 20 years, says Michael Woelcke. It’s also important because it signals to the world that we are open for business and that we are a port they should consider for their business. This demonstrates that Canada and Manitoba have a viable trade corridor.

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The interest in shipping goods from the port of Churchill is linked to the fact that it is a faster route to Europe and does not require unloading, recalls Mr. Woelcke.

He specifies that other routes, such as the one passing through the Great Lakes and then through the St. Lawrence River to access the Atlantic Ocean, require boat changes and take more time.

It is possible that with this first shipment we will barely reach profitability. But it will inform us about the economic model of this kind of operation and help us make decisions in the future on the type of facilities and structures we want to build, adds the business leader.

In August 2022, Arctic Gateway received $133 million to repair the railway from The Pas to Churchill. The group is the owner and operator of the railway line, as well as the port.

For the Mayor of Churchill and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Arctic Gateway, Mike Spence, this agreement demonstrates the positive impact of federal and provincial investments in the Port of Churchill Railway.

These investments enable the expansion of the role of the port and the path to prosperity for the Arctic Gateway group, continues the mayor.

In May 2017, flooding caused by melting snow seriously damaged the railway line. Residents of these northern communities were then deprived of rail transportation for more than 18 months. The Arctic Gateway group was created during this crisis to buy the railway from the American company Omnitrax.

It brings together 41 communities served by the rail line, including First Nations in the region.

This will support economic reconciliation, underlines Michael Woelcke.

The owner communities will benefit not only in financial terms, but also with jobs, because there will be other positive spin-offs. We are already talking to several organizations in our group about businesses that could be created through the work we do, he adds.

The CEO notes that it is possible that the group will ask the federal government for more money to modernize the port and adapt it to a variety of cargoes, including minerals.

Critical minerals will be a big part of business in the future for the Arctic Gateway group, he assures, noting that he is preparing to carry out a preliminary study on the economic possibilities of the port.

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