This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.
Ontario Mining Association member Goldcorp’s Red Lake Mines is the cornerstone of its namesake community in the northwestern corner of Ontario. Though the impact of this mining operation is felt regionally, provincially, nationally and internationally, its role is the most profound within sight of its headframes.
Red Lake, which is located in the Central Time Zone, more than 1,900 kilometres north and west of Toronto, has a current population of about 5,200. It is comprised of the communities of Red Lake, Balmertown, Cochenour, McKenzie Island, Madsen and Starratt-Olsen. Goldcorp is the largest employer in the community with approximately 1,000 workers and 500 contractors on board.
Goldcorp’s operations, which are all underground, in this area are supported by four headframes and hoists and two milling facilities with a capacity of 2,800 tonnes per day. Red Lake Mines is the largest gold producer among Goldcorp’s multiple operations in Canada, the United States and Latin America. In 2012, Red Lake Mines is expected to produce between 460,000 and 510,000 ounces of gold. In 2012, Goldcorp’s total production from all of its operations is expected to be between 2.35 and 2.45 million ounces of gold.
Proven and probable reserves at Red Lake currently stand at more than 3.9 million ounces of gold with an estimated mine life of 12 years. However, the company is in the midst of a multi-million expansion involving the enlarging and upgrading of the existing Cochenour shaft and construction of a five-kilometre drift connecting it to existing underground infrastructure. Production from the Cochenour project, which will contribute to the overall output, is expected to commence in late 2014.
Also, exploration work is ongoing at this site. The foundation of Goldcorp’s Red Lake Mines is the predecessor operations of Campbell Red Lake Gold Mines, which started in 1949, Dickenson Red Lake Mines, which started in 1948, and the Cochenour Willans Mine, which started in 1939. Gold prospecting and developing began in Red Lake in 1925 and the first producing mine in the area opened in 1930.
“You can’t find a better corporate citizen than Goldcorp,” said Red Lake Mayor Phil Vinet. “Red Lake is where we live and do business. We are growing and we need to facilitate growth and interest in the community expanding,” said Chris Cormier, General Manager of Goldcorp Red Lake Mines.
The company supports a wide range of health related, educational and cultural activities in Red Lake. It also operates the local recreation centre, which includes a curling rink, indoor swimming pool, gymnasium, bowling alley, baseball diamonds and facility rooms. “We try to be involved in some way, shape or form in all local events because many of our employees will be involved in these events in the community,” said Mr. Cormier.
While finding and producing gold and building the operation’s future is the main business of Goldcorp Red Lake Mines, helping to create a sustainable community for its employees and their families is also part of the job as a corporate citizen. “We are expanding faster than the community at the moment and this is putting the squeeze on housing supplies and costs in Red Lake,” said Mr. Cormier. “We need to help ourselves and our community. Red Lake is a great place to raise a family and one of the only communities where you can work, live and play within minutes of each other.”
With this in mind, Goldcorp’s Red Lake Mines is entering the real estate and the accommodation businesses in a bigger way. The company currently operates two 180-person camps for its employees. It is developing a multi-unit apartment complex in Cochenour and in Red Lake it is building a 55-lot subdivision. This year, the first 10 lots in that development will see the start of home construction.
Mr. Cormier knows that with expansion taking place at his operation and new mining projects in Red Lake such as Rubicon’s Phoenix Project and Claude Resources Madsen Development that there will be competition for skilled workers – and housing – in the future.
Good business sense can complement what is good for communities. Mining companies are responsible, solution-providing partners in society. They do more than find, extract and process minerals essential to our modern lifestyle. They volunteer and add great value to the quality of life in their communities and beyond.