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Posted to Maritime Musings (by on January 8, 2013

A mineral-rich region leading the way in Arctic navigation

Nunavik is a semi-autonomous region of northern Quebec, including the Ungava Peninsula.  The northern portion of Nunavik is in the Arctic climate zone, while the southern portion is considered sub-Arctic.  The sparsely populated region is rich in mineral resources.  Near the northwest corner of the Ungava Peninsula is a huge deposit of nickel and copper ore.  The Raglan mining complex has been built there to extract that ore.  The complex consists of three underground mines and two smaller open-pit mines.  The ore is trucked about 100 miles east to Deception Bay.  There the ore is stockpiled until it can be loaded onto the ice-breaking bulk carriers ARCTIC and UMIAK I for transport during the eight-month shipping season to Quebec City for initial smelting in Falconbridge, Ontario (refining is eventually done in Norway).  The double-hull UMIAK I, operated by Fednav Group, was built in 2006 with special ice strengthening.  The older (1978 build) and slightly smaller ARCTIC also has special ice strengthening.  A second mining complex, owned and operated by Canadian Royalties Inc., is being built near the Raglan complex.  It, too, intends to ship its ore via Deception Bay.  A new ice-breaking bulk carrier, scheduled for delivery in December 2013, is under construction in Japan to transport the ore from the new mine directly to Europe.  Experience gained in extracting and transporting ore from these mines will prove useful in other Arctic locations, such as Greenland.