The company was first incorporated as New Millennium Capital Corp. on August 8th, 2003. On June 14th, 2011, with the approval of its shareholders, the company's name was officially changed to New Millennium Iron Corp. ("NML"). NML is a reporting issuer in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. The Common Shares are listed on the TSX under the trading symbol "NML".
NML controls the emerging Millennium Iron Range (MIR) located in the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) and Quebec (QC) in an area known as the Labrador Trough, which holds one of the world's largest undeveloped iron ore deposits. The Trough, about 1,600 km long, is a historic mining district and hosts all current Canadian iron ore mining operations. Mining operations started in 1954, when the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) established rail access from Schefferville to the Port of Sept-Îles located about 600 km south at the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In 2002, NML's principal founder, Robert A. Martin, established LabMag Mining Corp. (LMC) after acquiring the LabMag deposit, which is located in NL and is one of the largest undeveloped magnetic iron ore (taconite) deposits in the world. As a young geologist in the early 1960's, Robert Martin discovered the LabMag deposit. After assembling a team of experienced iron ore professionals, LMC embarked on a preliminary assessment study to determine the economic potential of the taconite deposit. From 1966 until 1981, IOC owned what has become known as the LabMag deposit. IOC carried out extensive drilling and metallurgical testing. LMC utilized publicly available data along with the knowhow of its iron ore professionals to conduct its initial assessment.
From its inception, LMC recognized the importance and desirability of innovative approaches required to achieve lower operating costs in order to be a competitive producer and to ensure that the vast resources of the deposit would reach iron ore consumers around the world. NML thoroughly reviewed various transportation options and determined that transporting the concentrate by a slurry pipeline would be the ideal method to become a low cost producer and establish the economic viability of the project especially in periods of low iron ore prices. A slurry pipeline utilizes conventional technology and techniques and is long established as a successful means of transporting mineral concentrates. Slurry pipelines are employed by various iron mines around the globe. This method, powered by hydroelectricity is considered to be more environmentally friendly than other transport methods using petroleum fuel, not to mention operating costs generally considered to be much lower than those of rail transport.
In 2003, LMC decided to seek investment by and partnership with the local First Nation communities to advance the project. It was believed that co-operation and buy-in by the community would enable the successful development of the resources. This was a pioneering approach and unique in history of the Canadian mining industry. A partnership agreement was signed with the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach (NNK). In return for a stake in the property, NNK financed initial environmental baseline studies and archaeological surveys.
In August 2003, Robert Martin, Lee Nichols and several other associates formed a capital pool company listed on the TSX Venture Exchange called New Millennium Capital Corp.(NML), with its head office in Calgary, Alberta. In August 2004, NML acquired the LabMag deposit, which was jointly held by LMC and NNK as its "qualifying transaction", through a limited partnership in which NML held 80% and NNK retained the remaining 20%. NML raised $5 million to fund the initial exploration program.
Drilling of the LabMag property commenced during the summer of 2004. At the same time, the company began to acquire direct shipping ore deposits (DSO) as well as other taconite properties in the Schefferville area. However, the emphasis remained on the LabMag Project and a pre-feasibility study was completed in Q2, 2006. The LabMag Project was estimated to cost in the order of $4 billion. NML concluded that such a mega project would require a strong strategic partner(s) to finance the project.
Based on encouraging drilling results at the nearby KéMag deposit, which is located in the Province of Québec, NML started a pre-feasibility study for that project in 2007. In the same year, the company initiated development of the DSO Project when it became evident that potential partners would prefer to develop a smaller property before undertaking a mega project. The DSO Project would be a brownfield project with an expected annual production of 4 million tonnes of product.
In 2007, NML retained the services of Credit Suisse, Miller Mathis and certain individual consultants to conduct a worldwide search involving major steelmakers, iron ore mining and trading companies. In October 2008, NML signed a strategic partnership contract with Tata Steel who, as part of the transaction purchased 19.9% percent of NML's shares for about C$23.0 million. NML utilized the funds to advance the DSO feasibility study.
Subject to a positive feasibility study, Tata Steel had the right to acquire 80% of the DSO project by arranging financing up to $300 million and guarantee purchase of 100% off-take of the annual production meeting certain quality specifications for the life of the mine. NML would retain 20% ownership as a free carry and would contribute 20% of any capital expenditures over $300 million. Tata Steel also retained an option to enter into a transaction related to NML's Taconite deposits (NR0817).
NML published positive DSO feasibility study results in February 2010. In June 2010, Tata Steel invested $20 million in NML in a private placement thereby increasing its ownership to over 27%. In September 2010, Tata Steel exercised its exclusive option to participate in the DSO Project. An operating company, Tata Steel Minerals Canada Limited (TSMC), to be jointly owned by Tata Steel (80%) and NML (20%), was formed to oversee the project's implementation and subsequently to operate the mine. TSMC appointed an EPCM Contractor to implement the DSO Project. On October 3, 2012, NML announced the start of ore production of sinter fine products (NR1224) by crushing and screen of DSO grade ore with 62-63% Fe.
In 2013, TSMC continued with production of DSO grade products by continuing operations of a portable crushing and screening plant. TSMC achieved significant milestones first by shipping the first train to Sept-Iles on July 11 and then first shipments on September 14 to Tata Steel Europe. Most of the necessary agreements are in place, and development and construction activities are ongoing to achieve the estimated production targets of 1.5 mtpy in 2014, ramping up to 5 mtpy in 2015 and reaching 6 mtpy in 2016.
Tata Steel also entered into a binding heads of agreement dated March 6, 2011 (the Taconite HOA) with NML, pursuant to which Tata Steel exercised its exclusive right to negotiate and settle a proposed transaction in respect of the Taconite Project. The highlights of the transaction are as follows:
Subject to a positive feasibility study:
- Tata Steel will arrange financing up to C$4.85 billion.
- NML will be entitled to an equity free carry of 20%.
- NML will have an option to increase its ownership up to an additional 16% by contributing its share of the equity.
- NML will have a right of first refusal to acquire from Tata Steel an additional 4% equity interest, bringing the NML ownership to 40%.
- Parties agreed to start a feasibility study costing C$50 million. Tata Steel would pay 64% of the cost.
- Tata Steel's investment decision was expected four months after the completion of the feasibility study.
In 2010, NML carried out an airborne magnetometer survey over the entire length of the MIR. The interpretation of the survey data indicates the presence of several magnetic anomalies in the north and south sections of these deposits, some of which could rival the LabMag and KéMag deposits. In 2011, a program was initiated involving drilling and analysis to evaluate the resource potential of two MIR taconite anomalies in particular: Lac Ritchie and Perault Lake - both of which are 100% owned by NML, as well as to explore possible continuation of the KéMag deposit towards LabMag in the area of Howells Lake. In 2012, the Lac Ritchie property added 3.3 billion tonnes of Measured and Indicated and 1.4 billion tonnes of Inferred Mineral Resources to NML's already substantial certified taconite resource base (NR1211).
In the third quarter of 2012, NML completed drilling at the Perault Lake property and at the 80% owned Sheps Lake property (Naskapi LabMag Trust through LabMag Limited Partnership ("LLP") owns the other 20%). 48 holes were drilled in Perault Lake and 22 holes in Sheps Lake for a total of 3,891 and 1,918 meters, respectively (NR1223). Results of resource estimates for these two deposits were published in 2013 (NR1308). NML expects to accelerate development of such resources to carry out its vision and create value for its shareholders.