Established in 1980, Northern Ontario Business provides Canadians and international investors with relevant, current and insightful editorial content and business news information about Ontario’s vibrant and resource-rich North. This article was published in the January, 2011 issue.
The start of Detour Gold’s mine project will produce a wealth of economic spinoffs across the North
Cochrane is one of the northeastern Ontario communities reaping spinoff benefits as the project site preparations begin for one of Canada’s largest undeveloped gold reserves.
Detour Gold Corporation, a Toronto-based junior, received provincial approval for its closure plan and environmental assessment in early November. It has prompted the procurement process for mining equipment and services that will help build and operate the open-pit mine for a targeted production date of early 2013.
Located at Detour Lake, about 180 kilometres northeast of Cochrane, the project is situated on the site of Placer Dome’s former Detour Lake Mine, an historic producer of 1.8 million ounces of gold. Detour Gold has aggressively performed more than 450,000 metres of drilling and has completed a feasibility study since acquiring the property three years ago.
It has proved up a mineral reserve of 11.4 million ounces, targeting an average annual production of 650,000 ounces, with an estimated mine life of 16 years.
This $1.2-billion construction project will create more than 1,000 direct jobs. By 2013, when the mine is operational, an estimated 500 people will be employed.
“Full construction of the project is about to start,” said Pierre Beaudoin, the company’s senior vice-president of capital projects.
“Our plan is to meet our commitments to our Aboriginal partners and also support Cochrane local businesses, where our administrative centre is located. We want to work with competitive local businesses who want to grow with us.”
Cochrane, a forestry mill town of 5,400, is positioning itself as the “stepping off” point for the Detour Lake gold mine. Town officials have received inquiries from residential, commercial and industrial developers, some of them mining-related.
As the camp is accessible by road, it will have a seven-days-in, seven-days-out schedule with 12-hour shifts during mining operations. Beaudoin said safety plays a prominent role in choosing this schedule, along with its appeal factor.
“If we have a roster of seven and seven, we’ll more likely attract young families,” he said, adding that the company will try to support and encourage people to establish themselves in Cochrane. “We want to be an active participant in the economic growth of Cochrane and become part of the community’s success.”
Other communities like Timmins are also benefiting from the latest contract secured by Calgary-based ATCO Structures & Logistics (ASL), an international company that specializes in modular buildings and operational support. It was awarded the contract to build a 1,000-person accommodation facility for the construction workers.
In March 2010, ASL purchased the assets of Woodgreen Homes & Trailer Sales in Timmins and set up an office and staging area to service its mobile rental units. Seventeen employees presently work there.
“We’ve made a pretty significant investment in Timmins because we’re convinced that the long-term opportunities in Timmins will be positive and we want to be part of that,” said Jason Kielau, ALS general manager of workforce housing.
Through a memorandum of understanding, the company has been busily working in conjunction with Moose Cree First Nation to complete the camp at the end of the 2011’s first quarter.
This is not ASL’s first project in Northern Ontario. The company provided the temporary construction accommodations as well as the permanent residence for production workers at the De Beers Victor Mine, 90 kilometres west of Attawapiskat.
Toromont CAT, a division of Toromont Industries Ltd., was selected to supply the production fleet of mining trucks and support equipment in September 2010. An initial fleet of 18 CAT 795F AC 320-tonne mining trucks were purchased. In November, the company ordered two RH340 Bucyrus shovels from Toromont.
The Detour Lake Mine will be the first in the world to use these new-sized CAT trucks, said Beaudoin. The truck features a diesel-electric AC drive, which is purported to extend the life of the truck under proper care and maintenance. This large-scale truck boasts 63-inch rims on its wheels and was chosen because of the size of the operation.
“Many of the new mines coming online are large-scale operations, compared to the two or three previous generations,” he said, but despite the challenges associated with a project of this magnitude, Detour Gold is ready.
“We have a talented team in place that is disciplined with expenditures and focused on achieving value through its contracts. With this successful combination, we aim to build Detour Lake on time, on budget and start mining operations in the first quarter of 2013.”
In recognition of the work and commitment performed by the technical team, Detour Gold recently received the esteemed 2010 Ontario Prospector’s Association (OPA) Award in early December at the Ontario Exploration and Geoscience Symposium in Sudbury.
“They put together a high-quality, professional technical team, and developed one of the largest undeveloped gold deposits in North America,” said OPA’s executive director Garry Clark.