- © 2001 Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum
The Labrador Trough contains world-class iron deposits which have been mined since 1954. The direct shipping of Knob Lake ores were mined at Schefferville from 1954 to 1982. Concentrate production began in 1961 in the southwest end of the Trough, with three mines currently producing concentrate and pellets at a rate of 35 Mt per year. West and north of Schefferville, several billion tonnes of taconite have been outlined in fine-grained, cherty magnetite iron formation. Several deposits of highly metamorphosed magnetite-specularite iron formation are located west of Ungava Bay. Numerous studies have shown that this medium- to fine-grained iron formation can be beneficated to 66% to 68% iron. In the area from Wabush Lake to Mont-Wright, a medium- to coarse-grained friable specularite-quartz iron formation is repeated by folding to form several large deposits. In this area, three mining operations are located with reserves and resources in the order of 5 billion tonnes.
The iron deposits occur within iron formation in sediments in the extensive Proterozoic geosyn-cline called the Labrador Trough. Several facies of iron formation within the Sokoman Formation reflect variations in chemical composition and depositional conditions. The correlation between the mineralogy and textures is discussed to illustrate the development of different types of iron ores.
This band extends for about 1100 km southeast of Ungava Bay through both Quebec and Labrador. Further south, it turns southwest past the Wabush and Mont-Wright areas to within 300 km of the St. Lawrence River. The iron formation is essentially folded and faulted along most of its length. The degree of metamorphism is variable, ranging from intense in the northern and southern portions to greenschist facies in the central portion.
The stratigraphy, structure and mineralogy of the producing mines are described along with the history of discoveries. Geological input is required to achieve the strict specifications of the international iron ore market.