02/13/2014 07:06 EST | Updated 04/15/2014 05:59 EDT

Alderon says its mine could hire displaced Wabush workforce

Alderon Iron Ore Corp. says if its Kami mine goes ahead, it could hire every single worker facing a layoff at the shuttered Wabush Mines site, and still need extra staff to run the operation. 

"We can replace all those jobs and then some," executive chairman Mark Morabito told CBC News. 

Nearly 400 workers at Wabush Mines lost their jobs this week when U.S.-based parent company Cliffs Natural Resources said it could no longer afford to cover the operating costs at the aging mine. An additional hundred workers, largely in Quebec, are also out of work because the mine has been idled. 

Alderon is hoping to hear an answer from the Newfoundland and Labrador government on its request for a $300-million contribution on a power line that would run from Churchill Falls to western Labrador. 

Alderon said it would not be able to draw enough power from the grid, even if Wabush Mines stays closed. 

"No, there would not be," Morabito said in an interview. "Absolutely, there would not be."

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Tom Marshall arrived in Wabush late Wednesday night, and was scheduled to meet Thursday with town officials about the mine's closure and about whether the government will be able to respond to Alderon's request. 

"We all know about the needs for electricity in Lab West," he said. "The two lines are full …​ and we'll be discussing that." 

As to whether he was prepared to make an announcement on the third line on Thursday, Marshall said, "We'll see."