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December 04 2012, 12:38AM

Canada has given the green light to what will be one of the largest iron ore mines in the world, in a joint venture led by Europe's ArcelorMittal, the number one steel producer.

Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal has sought to boost self-sufficiency in iron ore in order to lessen its dependence on the three main producers, BHP Billiton, Vale and Rio Tinto.

The project on the Mary River in northern Canada will be a massive open-pit operation, for which a new road and railway will be built above the Arctic circle.

Production at the mine, of about 18 million tonnes a year, should last about 21 years, according to the Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation that is developing the mine.

ArcelorMittal will have a 70 per cent stake and Australia's Iron Ore Holdings LP the rest.