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May 16, 2012

Bending Lake Iron Ore pushes ahead with mining plans

The Bending Lake Iron Ore Group Ltd., a privately owned company based in Thunder Bay, is pressing ahead with plans for an estimated $900 million mining development in northwestern Ontario.

President and CEO Henry Wetelainen said the environmental assessment process is under way for the Josephine Cone mine, located at Bending Lake.

“I think the process is moving along quite well,” said Wetelainen, whose company’s vision is to develop the project using responsible environmental principles and the best available technology.

The environmental assessment process is scheduled to be completed by early 2014.

Major components of the project include an open-pit iron ore mine, estimated to cost $199 million, a $355 million concentrator, and a $313 million pellet plant. Transport-related facilities would cost $93 million.

The site will be accessed by a 34-kilometre railway spur line.

“Basically, this is a large industrial complex,” said Wetelainen, who considers the project the culmination of his life’s work.

Majority owners in Bending Lake Iron Group are aboriginal.

Plans call for construction to get under way in 2015.The company estimates that close to 1,000 workers will be required on site, drawn largely from the Thunder Bay area. A two-year construction schedule is anticipated.

Wetelainen said Bending Lake Iron is anxious to ensure the participation of aboriginal labour in the project. The company, which has an aboriginal liaison team in place, is publishing a newspaper targeted at that community.

It also is encouraging careers in the mining industry. Consultations are planned with local communities impacted by the project, among them Atikokan, Ignace and Dryden.

Bending Lake Iron acquired the property in 2003, after previous owner Algoma Steel decided to develop a different site. After ore prices began to rise, Wetelainen pulled together a core team of iron mining experts from Canada and the United States to develop the project. Last year, civil works and concentrator plant design activities were initiated, as were baseline environmental assessment studies.

“We have a crew of highly qualified people to undertake this project,” Wetelainen said.

The project team includes Dillon Consulting Ltd.

Bending Lake Iron hopes to have the mine in production early in 2017.

The mine is named after Wetelainen’s grandmother, who helped stake the original property in the early 1950s.

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