In operation since 1950, the orebody at Lac Tio is an open-pit mine located 43 km northeast of Havre-Saint-Pierre, the site of the largest solid ilmenite deposit in the world. The exceptional size and quality of the Lac Tio deposit hold enormous potential for the future - it has a life expectancy of at least another 40 years.
Operating year-round, Rio Tinto, Fer et Titane's mine has close to 300 employees who ensure that all activities run smoothly, from mining the ore to transporting it to Havre-Saint-Pierre, and then to the metallurgical complex in Sorel-Tracy.
The ore is extracted by blasting. Each blast loosens 100,000 to 200,000 tonnes of ore and tailing.
The ore loosens by blasting is transported to crushers, which pound it first into 20-centimetre pieces and then further reduce it to less than 7.5 cm.
The crushed ore is shipped by train to Havre-Saint-Pierre and unloaded at the RTFT dock. From there is it transferred by conveyor on to an ore carrier destined for the Sorel-Tracy metallurgical complex, which receives about three million metric tonnes of ilmenite yearly.
Metallurgical Complex (Sorel-Tracy)
RTFT's metallurgical complex in Sorel-Tracy is the only one of its kind in the world. It is the site of several interconnected plants with varied but complementary types of production. The reduction plant is at the heart of the complex and has nine furnaces that feed the entire production line. The smelted ore is transformed into titanium dioxide feedstock and iron, or transported to the steel plant and the metal powder plant for further processing. The resulting products are used as raw materials by pigment producers, the automotive industry and foundries.
Developed by RTFT in the 1940s, the reduction process makes it possible to extract iron and titanium dioxide from the ore and made RTFT the first company in the world to remove iron from ilmenite for commercial use.
Rio Tinto, Fer et Titane, employs more than 1700 people at its Sorel-Tracy site. Home to the production facilities, the complex also houses the RTFT research centre and the company's head office.