Baffinland Iron Mines was little known outside of mining circles until a few months ago, when it became the subject of a four-month takeover battle between No. 1 global steelmaker ArcelorMittal and Nunavut Iron ore, a private-equity backed company formed solely for the purposes of pursuing the bid.
At stake is the massive Mary River iron ore deposit in the northern Canadian territory of Nunavut, said to contain enough raw material to supply the needs of all of Europe, an ocean-ride away.
The project location, however, has its challenges, located in hostile terrain on Baffin Island, above the Arctic Circle, and development costs are estimated at at least C$4 billion ($4 billion).
Following are some facts about the Mary River project:
* The site was discovered in 1962 by Murray Watts of British Ungava Explorations Ltd (Brunex), and Baffinland Iron's predecessor company was established in 1963 by the backers and prospectors of Brunex.
* Baffinland started exploration at Mary River in 2004.
* Mary River is located at the northern end of Baffin Island about 160 km south of the hamlet of Pond Inlet, Nunavut.
* The open pit project is expected to produce about 18 million tonnes of iron ore per year when it is first built, and analysts say output could almost double relatively quickly.
* Nine deposits at Mary River so far identified are thought to contain some 450 million tonnes of iron ore, of which 75 percent could be high grade.
* Once built, Baffinland expects Mary River to operate year-round for at least 21 years.
* A 143 km rail and road link is planned to connect the proposed mines to a port at Steensby Inlet, south of Mary River, where chartered ice-breaking ore carriers would transport the ore to markets year-round.
* The Steensby port is 3,100 nautical miles (5,741 km) from the key destination of Rotterdam in Europe, compared with 5,000 nautical miles from Brazil to Rotterdam.
* The area, within the Arctic Circle, experiences 24-hour a day darkness from November to January and 24-hour a day sunlight between May and August.
* The region has less than 200 mm annual precipitation and an annual average temperature of about -15 Celsius.
* Baffinland owns leases that cover about 1,593 hectares and are renewable beyond the current 21-year period expiring Aug. 27, 2013.
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