A collège d'enseignement général et professionnel (CEGEP) is a technical college. The programmes at the CEGEP de Sept-Îles are formulated to meet the needs of the regional labour market, while its RAIL Centre of Expertise offers training programmes, technical assistance projects as well as research.
IOC is a joint venture between Rio Tinto (58.7%), Mitsubishi (26.2%) and the Labrador Iron Ore Royalty Income Corp (15.1%). It has a port and stockpile in Sept-Îles, and uses the QNS&L Railway to transport premium iron ore concentrate and pellets to its mine and processing plant, which is located 418km away in Labrador City, Newfoundland and Labrador.
IOC has been collaborating with the CEGEP de Sept-Îles for several years providing equipment that is now used to train students. For example, IOC has donated a train-handling simulator to the CEGEP and has also committed to providing it with signalling equipment, switch motors, two railcars and track detectors. The total estimated value of this equipment is more than C$850,000.
The aim of the new partnership between IOC and the RAIL Centre of Expertise is to strengthen the position of Sept-Îles as a hub for railway training. The collaboration's offering will be tailored to the needs of the rail transport industry, which is already well established in this region of Quebec. IOC said that the investment will enable students, employees of IOC and other companies in the region to improve their technical skills in various fields in the rail industry, such as rolling stock and railway maintenance.
IOC and the RAIL Centre of Expertise are also collaborating on technical assistance and applied research projects. These involve developing innovative technologies for heavy transportation, as well as designing preventative maintenance protocols to improve the safety and efficiency of railways.
José Riopel, general manager of Rail, Port & Energy at IOC, said: "At IOC, rail transport has always been an integral part of our operations. By getting involved in the development of the CEGEP de Sept-Îles' RAIL Centre of Expertise, IOC has three major goals in mind: to improve the safety, reliability and productivity of our operations, to facilitate the training, recruitment and retention of qualified employees, and to contribute to the economic vitality of the North Shore."
David Beaudin, acting director general at CEGEP de Sept-Îles, added: "Over the last 15 years, the CEGEP de Sept-Îles has cultivated a unique expertise in the rail industry by developing training that matches not only the industry's needs but also those of technical consulting and research. The financial support that our Railway Centre of Expertise is receiving from IOC today will be decisive for the continuation of our work in this area of expertise. The involvement of this mining giant makes it all the more pertinent to establish an innovation zone in the Sept-Îles-Port-Cartier region. Today, IOC leadership has clearly demonstrated its confidence in the CEGEP de Sept-Îles and our research units, and for that we are extremely grateful."
Luc Faucher, director of the RAIL Centre of Expertise, concluded: "This major involvement from IOC supports the RAIL Centre's vision of becoming a Quebec hub of excellence in railway training, technical assistance and research. We are delighted by this major contribution and the positive impact it will have on our company and on the entire region. This investment will allow us to expand the Centre's influence eastward in the country."