The port of Sept-Îles will this year become the leading port in Quebec and the second in Canada in terms of volumes. It defies the global economic slowdown by preparing to reach a level of activity never seen before. And the prospects look even better.

The year 2023 will be a record year for the Port of Sept-Îles, which is about to surpass the Port of Montreal in terms of activity volumes.

The Côte-Nord port will reach a plateau of 40 million tonnes, according to an estimate made by Pierre Gagnon, CEO of the Port of Sept-Îles. “This will allow the port to regain second place among Canadian ports, which we had already achieved in the 1970s,” he said.

Last year, the Port of Montreal had maintained its first rank in Quebec, with 35.9 million tonnes handled, while the Port of Sept-Îles was close behind with 33.4 million tonnes. Both are far from the Port of Vancouver, with a transit of 146 million tonnes.

If Pierre Gagnon expects to see traffic increase by nearly 20% at the port of Sept-Îles in 2023, it is because iron ore shipping is ignoring the global economic slowdown.

Champion Iron is doubling its production, adding 7 million tonnes, while Rio Tinto Alcan’s business is also geared towards growth, observes the port authority’s CEO.

The port of Sept-Îles is first and foremost a shipping port, since 93% of the volume of activity is dedicated to export. Its location ensures that it handles shipments of iron ore extracted from the Labrador Trough. The high iron content of this ore ensures its worldwide interest. “The quality is such that it avoids coal consumption in steel production. The market pays a significant premium to these producers,” points out Pierre Gagnon.

Steelmakers around the world, engaged in the decarbonization of their activities, are hungry for this high-purity iron ore, which allows them to produce steel that consumes less greenhouse gases (GHG). Half of the iron ore is sent to Asia, a third to Europe, and 15% to the American continent.

The CEO of the Port of Sept-Îles is already seeing further. The multi-user wharf put into service in 2016 is only running at 40% of its capacity. While 20 million tonnes pass through this infrastructure, it could accommodate 50 million tonnes. And a capacity of 50 million additional tons could even be freed up, by developing a second phase of the project, “when the market demands it”, specifies Pierre Gagnon. “We planned to be able to keep up with market growth. Enough to ensure the first rank of the port of Sept-Îles in Quebec in the long term.