SEPT-ÎLES, January 19, 2010 – The volume of merchandise handled at the Port of Sept-Îles dipped 12% in 2009, with a total volume of 19.8 million tons versus the 22 million tons handled during the previous year. This slowdown was in line with expectations and was caused, for the most part, by a reduced volume of iron ore shipments that stemmed from decreased demand in iron markets in 2009. This information was announced today during a public event held in honor of the New Year, where the Port of Sept-Îles presented an overview of its activities from the past year before local representatives and dignitaries.

News of the slowdown was mitigated by two other important developments—an 80% uptick in business volume on the Sept-Îles-Matane railcar ferry, which transported over 54,000 tons last year, and the arrival of the Port’s first international cruise ships, which brought 5,047 passengers and three ships to Sept-îles in 2009.

Several major investment projects were also announced in 2009. Construction of the new cruise ship terminal, the Pointe-Noire wharf optimization project, the La Relance terminal expansion project, and the signing of a long-term agreement with Consolidated Thompson Iron Mines Ltd. all made 2009 a record breaking year in terms of investment in the Port. “All signs point to 2010 being a year of significant growth. Thanks to the $160 million worth of infrastructure investment announced last year in collaboration with our partners, we’re fulfilling our role as a development agent in our community,” said Carol Soucy (chairman of the board) and Pierre D. Gagnon (CEO).

The launch of Consolidated Thompson Iron Mines Ltd.’s storage and handling operations in the Port of Sept-Îles in fall 2009 set a record high for private investment at nearly $100 million. In addition to generating significant returns in the form of various contracts and the creation of new jobs in the region, this new iron ore producer, which boasts an annual production capacity of 8 million tons, will soon enable the Port of Sept-îles to reclaim its title as second busiest port in Canada.

Port activity remains a significant source of wealth creation in Quebec and Canada. Sept-îles’s port facilities play a vital and strategic role in the operation of a number of businesses from the region’s primary sector. The Port’s annual economic impact is estimated at $1 billion, with some 4,000 direct and indirect jobs.