Labrador Iron Mines (LIM) has commenced the 2012 exploration programme at its iron ore properties in Labrador and Quebec in Canada.

As part of the $8.6m programme, the mining firm will drill 11,280m and trench 3,600m, supported by geophysics, in 12 target areas.

The company aims to convert historic resources to National Instrument (NI) 43-101 compliant mineral resources, which includes drilling at Houston, Gill, Malcolm and other nearby deposits.

Acquisition of geological information to support ongoing geotechnical, metallurgical and hydrogeological interpretations, delineation of historic crushed stockpiles, drill testing of taconite targets identified in 2011, and evaluation of historical manganese deposits are part of the exploration programme.

LIM president and COO Rod Cooper said, "We are extremely excited with this year’s exploration program, which is significantly larger than any previous program executed by LIM and is designed to contribute to the strategic objectives of our company."

Under the programme, LIM has signed agreements with three drilling contractors, of which two will carry out diamond drill work and the third will focus on reverse circulation (RC) drilling.

The 2012 exploration programme will use traditional diamond drilling and/or other proven core recovery techniques to generate core samples.

LIM said Actlabs Laboratories will remain as independent managers of the site preparation laboratory.

The mining firm selected a Quebec-based geophysical consulting firm to carry out a series of ground magnetometer and gravity surveys, totalling 21.5 line-kilometres, over the ore properties.

Core samples acquired by the drilling programme and assessment of geotechnical and metallurgical parameters will provide data for mineral resource estimation, mine design, pit wall stability assessment, and process plant flow sheet design.

The company will start drilling operations on the Ryan target, located between the Gill Mine and Ruth Lake deposit, to evaluate historical manganese mineral resources.