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Port-Cartier Industrial Complex

Concentrate produced at Mont-Wright is unloaded at Port-Cartier using the dumper, a system that empties train cars two at a time without uncoupling them. The concentrate is then routed to one of three destinations: the pellet plant, the stockpiles and the port.

Pellet plant

Over two-thirds of the concentrate is processed into pellets at the pellet plant, which was established in 1977. The plant, an internationally competitive, high-efficiency operation, was initially designed to produce 6 million tonnes of pellets annually, but the know-how of its employees and new technologies have boosted its capacity to more than 9 million tonnes.

The pelletizing process is carried out on two production lines. Principal stages are:

• Enrichment
• Grinding
• Filtration
• Additives and mixing
• Balling
• Sieving
• Cooking

An enrichment facility reduces the concentrate’s silica content as needed, in accordance with customer needs. After this optional stage, water and additives are incorporated into the concentrate, which is then finely ground in one of six pellet ball mills until the grains are smaller than 45 microns (the size of a grain of flour). Looking very much like mud, the resulting slurry is pumped to one of ten vertical filters for partial drying, then poured into one of three mixers where other additives are incorporated.

The final mix is routed to one of ten agglomeration discs, on which pellets are formed through the centrifugal force generated by the disc’s rotation.

Lastly, the pellets are heated to 1,300 Celsius in one of two large cooking kilns to harden them.


The Company’s stockpiles at Port-Cartier have a capacity of 2.5 millions tonnes of concentrate and 1.7 million tonnes of pellets.

Materials are moved and handled using an extensive system comprising seven kilometres of underground and overhead conveyors, as well as a variety of stacking and recovery equipment including a stacker, a reclaimer, and a machine combining both functions. A dumper and shiploader are also available.


The port facilities at Port-Cartier have an annual shipping capacity of over 20 million tonnes, making it one of Canada’s largest private ports. Marine traffic tops approximately 450 vessels a year.

Hewn into the rock at the Gulf of St. Lawrence estuary, the five-dock facility is accessible year-round. Two docks are reserved exclusively for concentrate and pellet shipping, while the third receives raw materials for pelleting. The last two are leased for transhipment of grain from Western Canada.


The Company railway transports iron ore concentrate from Mont-Wright to Port-Cartier. Renowned throughout the North American rail industry, it is considered a benchmark for reliability and innovation.

The railway is 420 kilometres long, and comprises 18 sidings, 20 bridges and five tunnels.

The Company’s rolling stock includes 22 locomotives, some 950 cars, more than 300 utility cars, and many different railway maintenance and inspection vehicles. They are maintained at the rail workshops in Port-Cartier, where empty trains are also prepared to leave for Mont-Wright.

On average, five full trains return from Mont-Wright each day. Each train, propelled by two locomotives, carries 14,900 tonnes of concentrate in 160 cars and measures 1.5 kilometres from nose to tail. A round trip takes about 25 hours.

Train and maintenance personnel can stop off at two permanent camps located along the line. The railway is rigorously inspected at regular intervals, while planned maintenance programs are applied using of state-of-the-art instruments and specialized vehicles.

In addition to carrying ore, the railway also transports commodities to Mont-Wright and timber to the Arbec sawmill in Port-Cartier.

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