TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – After 49 years of operation, Xstrata Zinc’s Brunswick mine closed on a high note on Tuesday, as the company announced it had recently learned that it would be awarded this year’s John T Ryan Award for outstanding safety performance in the metal mine category in the Quebec and East Region.
Located in northern New Brunswick, 30 km south-west of the city of Bathurst, Brunswick mine was one of the world’s largest underground zinc/lead mines providing direct employment to about 700 people.
“I am extremely proud that Brunswick’s workforce has been awarded one of our industry’s most prestigious safety awards. It’s especially significant because as we come near to the end of the life of the Brunswick mine, the challenges of safely mining the remaining ore becomes even greater.
“This award is a recognition of the tremendous effort that has gone into creating our ‘safety first’ culture and I can think of no better way to crown nearly half a century of operations than by receiving this honour,” Brunswick mine GM Greg Ashe said in a statement.
The Ryan Awards were presented to mines with the lowest accident frequency, with trophies granted across metal, coal and select mine categories. This was the ninth regional honour for the mine, having won this trophy in 2010, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 1996, 1995 and 1994 and came after winning the national award in 2011.
This week’s closure came after a year of celebration of the history of the mine including the publication of a commemorative book. While many of the workers at Brunswick mine were eligible for retirement and the company had held on-site job fairs to help workers transition into new employment, there would be some who will be looking for new forms of employment following the mine’s closure.
The mine had played a critical role in the economic development of the Chaleur region and the province. “Over the years, the mine has created opportunities for thousands of people and it is their spirit and innovation that helped safely build Brunswick mine and kept it strong for almost 50 years”, Ashe said.
Brunswick’s massive sulphide ore body was discovered in 1953 and production began in 1964. The mine has operated continuously since that time, surviving economic ups and downs and four significant changes in ownership to produce about 150-million tonnes of ore at grades of 8.46% zinc, 3.33% lead, 0.37% copper, and 99 g/t silver.
Xstrata Zinc said it had already begun a comprehensive reclamation process at the site. This included removing all buildings on site, capping the tailings facility and securing and vegetating the area in an effort to return the site as closely as possible to its original state. This process was expected to take about five years and a small number of staff would remain on site to monitor this activity.
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