Falconbridge plans major Raglan investment

With nickel prices hitting new highs, Falconbridge has announced a major investment programme for its nickel installations in Northern Quebec, at the Raglan mine in Nunavik Territory. The company is launching two important studies for Raglan’s expansion. The first will focus on developing new ore reserves to replace those depleted since the mine’s opening in 1997. This investment will likely reach nearly C$240 million over six years.

The second study is to support the expansion of nickel ore production from 1 Mt to 1.3 Mt/y as early as 2009. This 30% increase, requiring an additional investment of roughly C$250 million, would create 50 additional jobs and increase the value of annual royalties Falconbridge pays to local Inuit communities. On April 7, 2006, Falconbridge presented a C$9.3 million cheque to the Makivik Corp covering the payment of the first royalties as part of the Raglan Agreement.

This amount is in addition to the nearly C$200 million in equipment and upgrades Falconbridge has invested at the Raglan mine in the past two years. The initial investment in the construction of Raglan was in excess of $600 million.

Falconbridge also announced the start of major renovations to its Deception Bay loading dock. The C$50 million investment will extend the dock’s service life and support the production increases.

“These studies will enable Raglan to expand production while maintaining the flow of benefits to local Inuit communities, and also respecting the environment”, stated Ian Pearce, Chief Operating Officer of Falconbridge. “Falconbridge has strong roots in the immense Abitib Temiscamingue region of Quebec, through its predecessor company Noranda. Over the past 75 years we have made every effort to combine economic and community benefits in all our projects, while continuously improving our environmental performance. In recent years, Quebec has demonstrated its unequivocal support for the mining sector and is today one of the world’s most attractive jurisdictions for our industry.”

Inaugurated in 1997, Falconbridge’s nickel complex at Raglan comprises 3 underground mines, 1 open-pit mine, as well as a concentrator. The site enjoys year-round road connections to a landing strip at Donaldson and to harbour facilities at Deception Bay.