A Quebec mining company intends to extract industrial minerals from its recently-acquired pyrochlore property on the James Bay lowlands.
Niocan Inc. of Oka, Que. is finalizing its acquisition of a lease to mine niobium on a property 50 kilometres south of Moosonee. Pyrochlore is the primary mineral from which niobium is obtained.
“We feel confident this is going to be a second mine for us,” says Niocan president Richard Faucher, who expects to develop the property over the next six to eight years with cash flow from their other niobium mine in Oka, northwest of Montreal.
The Oka mine and mill, expected to begin construction in spring 2004, is in its final permitting stages and will provide 160 jobs.
Niobium is used as an additive in the production of high strength, low alloy steel for products such as pipelines, car bodies, tool steels, steel hulls and rails. It is valued for its corrosion resistance and strengthening qualities.
Niocan expects to invest $1.2 million to $1.5 million in exploration work over the next three years to define a reserve believed to be 62 million tonnes. The property is situated 40 kilometres from the Ontario Northland Railway line, but is accessible by forest roads.
Plans call for a small pit to mine the richer portions of what is expected to be a 20- to 30-year reserve of about 20 to 30 million tonnes at .7 per cent grade niobium “which makes it quite economical,” says Faucher.
Faucher says the global market demand for niobium has been “fairly good” over the years with new applications
being devised for steel products.