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Baffinland CEO says no to shipping ore through Northwest Passage – The Globe and Mail

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The head of a Canadian mining company developing a massive mineral deposit within the Arctic Circle said the Northwest Passage won’t work as a viable shipping route to Europe and Asia.

Baffinland Iron Mines Corp., which is owned by steel giant ArcelorMittal and private equity firm Iron Ore Holdings LP, is building one of the largest iron ore mines in the world on Baffin Island in Nunavut. The $750-million Mary River mine is on track to open in 2015 and the ore will be shipped to Europe.

“In my opinion the Northwest Passage is not a transit route of any significance,” Tom Paddon, Baffinland’s chief executive, told the Arctic Futures 2013 conference in Brussels on Thursday.

Mr. Paddon said one problem is the Northwest Passage’s depth, which prevents it from becoming a major trade route. Many commodities such as iron ore and coal are shipped on bulk carriers that need a depth of up to 19 metres, also known as “capesize” vessels. Much of the Northwest Passage is only 15 metres deep.

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