“Investigating this exciting project, alongside a company like Arianne Phosphate, is exciting news for our region,” said Restigouche-Chaleur MLA Daniel Guitard. “Economic growth and job creation have been constant priorities for your government, and a study of this kind represents an important step forward for a potentially large opportunity.”
Guitard attended for Economic Development Minister Francine Landry, who is also the minister responsible for Opportunities NB.
As part of the agreement, Opportunities NB and the Regional Development Corporation will each provide a $100,000 contribution toward the cost of the study.
Arianne Phosphate is working to develop the Lac à Paul phosphate mine in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec. That mine, if established, would be one of the largest greenfield phosphate projects in the world.
A phosphoric acid plant in Belledune would have the potential to import about 1.4 million tonnes of phosphate rock from Lac à Paul and combine that rock with about 1.1 million tonnes of sulphuric acid to produce 500,000 tonnes per year of phosphoric acid for sale in North America, northern Europe, South America and India.
“Over the last year, Arianne has been reviewing the possibility of vertically integrating its own phosphate rock production into a facility to produce phosphoric acid,” said company CEO Brian Ostroff. “Our work to date has been positive and, especially with the industry now recovering from a five-year slump, it makes sense to move the idea to the next step, a pre-feasibility study. We are in an enviable position. By having our own phosphate rock, we have the flexibility of either being a seller of our rock to those who need it, or going downstream ourselves and capturing that additional margin ourselves.”
After reviewing several locations, the company believes that Belledune would be a good location to construct the plant due to the presence of a port with the capacity to handle the operation, as well as access to a skilled labour force.
Arianne Phosphate has been working with the various groups that will be involved in the study, which is expected to take about five months to complete.