ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel producer, is committing $2.1-billion to expansion of its iron ore mining and processing facilities in Northern Quebec.
The investment by the Luxembourg-based global giant is key element in Quebec Premier Jean Charest's ambitious $80-billion (Canadian) Grand Nord plan to develop the northern reaches of the province.
ArcelorMittal said Friday it plans to expand its mine at Mont-Wright - near the town of Fermont - and is evaluating boosting production of its iron-ore pellets at its plant in Port-Cartier manufacturing plant in Port-Cartier, on the Lower North Shore.
The massive project is fuelled by soaring global demand - particularly in emerging countries like China - for industrial raw materials including iron, copper, nickel, zinc and uranium.
Interest in developing Canada's iron ore reserves has been growing over the past few years, with several Chinese investments in new development projects in the Labrador Trough.
ArcelorMittal - which operates in more than 60 countries and whose facilities include the Dofasco steel-making complex in Hamilton, Ont. - put its plans for expansion of its Northern Quebec operations on hold when the global recession of 2008-2009 hit.
"This is most welcome. This is a project of global dimensions," said Bernard Gauthier, who promotes economic development in the Port-Cartier region, said in an interview.
AracelorMittal said in a news release that the investment will allow subsidiary ArcelorMittal Mines Canada to increase its annual production of iron ore concentrate to 24 million tonnes from 14 million tonnes by 2013.
The company said the project will create 8,000 jobs during construction and more than 900 permanent jobs once completed.
"ArcelorMittal Mines Canada is a flagship mining asset for the group, which offers considerable opportunity for expansion. We have already announced our intention to grow our iron ore production to 100 million tonnes by 2015 and this expansion forms an important part of that," Peter Kukielski, head of mining for ArcelorMittal, said in a statement.