Many projects could start up in next few years
In the next five years the mining industry in Manitoba could find itself in a challenging position — trying to find people to fill 2,000 additional jobs that might be created. That’s because a number of development projects that have been percolating for years may be coming to fruition.
With employment up almost 25 per cent over the past five years to 6,100 and capital spending up 25 per cent in the past year, the industry is booming. Base metal prices continue to hold their own and gold prices continue to rise as global economic uncertainty persists.
It means that a number of projects — some that could be among the largest ever developed in the province — continue to progress, creating the potential for several new mine openings over the next few years. It will take billions of dollars to make that a reality, which means it’s far from a foregone conclusion.
But the current optimism — manifested by registration numbers at this week’s annual Manitoba Mining and Minerals Convention hitting 1,000 for the first time ever — does not come out of the blue. Typically, new mines take up to 10 years to develop. Leading off the development bonanza in Manitoba is one of the fastest discovery-to-development projects in the country — HudBay Minerals’ Lalor project.
The major new copper/zinc/gold mine in Snow Lake is being fast-tracked into production.
After the discovery of the deposit in 2007, initial production from a three-kilometre ramp built from its existing Chisel North mine in Snow Lake is expected by the middle of next year.
Lalor’s rapid progression from a prospector’s discovery to an operating mine is not the norm.
More typical is the process Mega Precious Metals Inc. is going through with its Monument Bay gold project.
Located 340 kilometres southeast of Thompson and 60 kilometres northeast of Red Sucker Lake, Monument Bay could turn into a sizable gold mine one day.
Company management was on the verge of completing its regulatory documentation earlier this year detailing a modest-sized underground gold mine.
But company CEO Jim Rogers said less-than-enthusiastic market reception and ongoing positive exploration results made the company change its approach. Now something on a much grander scale is being conceived.
“We are approaching it differently,” Rogers said after a long day of meetings with Manitoba officials, including Premier Greg Selinger, who gave the keynote address at the mining conference on Friday.
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