Apatite: Increasingly in demand
Mine Arnaud intends to mine a single type of ore: apatite. This is an industrial mineral from which phosphate (P2O5) is extracted for various end-uses, but mainly to produce agricultural fertilizers.
Rock extracted from the open pit will be crushed and processed directly on the mine site to produce a phosphate-rich concentrate. The mine will produce 1.3 million tonnes of apatite concentrate annually, destined for the production of agricultural fertilizers.
Studies on the deposit indicate that Mine Arnaud apatite is of exceptional quality. The deposit in Sept-Îles is characterized by the following:
• The high grade of the concentrate: in the processing plant, apatite will be concentrated to a grade of 39–40% P2O5.
• Its purity due to its igneous origin: this apatite product is not associated with contaminants that are no longer tolerated in modern agricultural practices (e.g., arsenic, uranium, cadmium, etc.).
Demand for high-quality apatite such as that found in Arnaud Township has been steadily growing over the past few years.
• Demand for fertilizers in developing countries;
• Low levels of global grain stocks;
• Growing demand for crops used to produce biofuels;
• Strong demand for better-quality food;
• Closure of many apatite mines;
• Higher costs for the construction of new mines.
A by-product: Titaniferous magnetite
A by-product commonly associated with apatite deposits, titaniferous magnetite may be recovered during the concentration process.
For the moment, Mine Arnaud considers titaniferous magnetite as a mining waste since no economically viable market has yet been created for this by-product. However, given the potential environmental and economic benefits, Mine Arnaud is currently working to create a market to beneficiate this by-product rather than treating it solely as a mining waste.
Beneficiation of this by-product would help reduce the volume of accumulated tailings by nearly 20% and could generate interesting economic benefits for the Mine Arnaud project.