Iron Ore Company of Canada Operations

Labrador City, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Delivering advanced air quality modeling for a major iron ore operation

The Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) is a leading Canadian producer of iron ore pellets and concentrate, with operations based in the Labrador Trough. IOC is committed to understanding and mitigating potential impacts of emissions it produces as it carries out its work. To this end, it has undertaken an Air Quality Improvement Project (AQIP) and participates in a Community Air Monitoring Network. We’ve worked closely with IOC for a number of years to support their air quality compliance and pollution abatement programs.


  • The Challenge

    Our recent environmental work with IOC has focused primarily on two key initiatives:

    1. An ambitious multi-year program to determine the best way to reduce air emissions from its iron ore pellet-making operations.

    Pellet preparation involves cooking iron ore pellets in indurating furnaces, each with its own stack. The stacks were built without pollution control equipment, but the AQIP set the objective of introducing pollution abatement mechanisms. Reaching a solution that is both environmentally effective and economically viable requires a thorough exploration of possible abatement approaches.

    2. Planning for Wabush 3, a new pit that will be developed within IOC’s existing mine operations with an investment of $79 million.

    Assessing air pollutant emissions from an open pit mining operation requires detailed information on a host of factors related to equipment, such as the size and quantity of haul trucks, material handling rates, representative locations of paved and unpaved haul routes, and truck travel speeds. Assessing emissions from blasting within an open pit mine is especially challenging, due to the open nature of the emissions and the short duration of each blast. Finally, the Labrador City region’s complex topography added another layer of difficulty.

  • Our Approach

    Our team is powered by dedicated in-house expertise and our culture revolves around fully understanding and engaging with our clients’ goals and contexts. The team became familiar with IOC’s needs and concerns, and remained intact for the many years these projects spanned. We collaborated closely with IOC and also built relationships with regulators and the AQIP engineering team, allowing us to respond quickly to changes in the project.

    1. Reducing air emissions from iron ore pellet-making operations.

    We worked side by side with IOC’s engineering team during this process, exploring potential abatement scenarios for the furnace stacks through advanced air pollution dispersion modeling using the CALMET/CALPUFF system. As IOC carried out a comprehensive series of cost-benefit analyses of numerous combinations of possible abatement solutions, we delivered many iterations of dispersion model results to show precisely how each scenario would reduce the concentration of air pollutants.

    2. Assessing emissions impacts from open pit mining.

    To begin our work on the Wabush 3 project, we undertook a site visit and participated in an extensive tour of the mining operations to get as much information as possible on the mining equipment and how it would be used at the site. We then worked closely with the IOC team to collect the information that would complete our understanding of operations at the site, so we could generate a set of representative mining scenarios for analysis.

    We assessed emissions from blasting in the open pit mine by analyzing measurement data from a monitoring campaign that was specially designed to measure air pollutant levels downwind of blasts.

    We also performed detailed comparisons of baseline dispersion model results against direct measurements taken at air monitoring stations in the study area, to ensure that the dispersion model’s accuracy was satisfactory.

    In addition to our work on these two specific initiatives, we’ve delivered a range of other services to IOC:

    • Support on the siting, procurement and installation of new monitoring stations for total suspended particulate matter, respirable particulate matter, wind speed/direction, sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen.
    • Statistical analysis and interpretation of ambient monitoring data, and support in compliance discussions with Environment Canada and the NFLD-Labrador Department of Environment and Conservation.
  • The Outcome

    The EIS for Wabush 3 was approved by the provincial government in 2015 and site preparation began in 2017, with the first ore from the pit expected in 2018. The pollution mitigation work associated with the induration furnaces is ongoing.