New road connects Renard diamond mine with other “Plan Nord” jobs – by Russell Noble (Canadian Mining Journal – October 2013)

Russell Noble is the editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication.

Stornoway Diamond Corporation of Longueuil, QC is proud that its Renard Diamond Mine has been officially deemed “Quebec’s First Diamond Mine,” but the company is equally proud of one more of its achievements; its Renard Mine Road, a 97-km-long portion of a 240-km route that now links the mine with the public highway, Provincial Route 167, and the popular mining communities of Temiscamie and Chibougamau.

The new road is a two-lane, 8.5-m wide gravel passage completed two months ahead of schedule and on budget. It’s an all-season road that will now enable the company to continue developing its Renard Mine year round without delays in the delivery of machinery, supplies, or people.

In fact, the new road brings a feeling of “community” with other Quebec mining companies in central Quebec because it now “connects” the mine and its workers with a permanent road to and from the site.

Since 1996 when the property was discovered, Stornoway’s geologists and field crews have relied either on a seasonal road or air support.

Today, with the road in place, construction vehicles will now be able to travel between 50 and 70 km/hour along a safe reliable surface to the mine site where Company President Matt Manson says “We’re now ready to build.”

After more than 17 years in the making, Manson says “The Renard Project is now permitted, connected by road, and the project’s large Mineral Resource, and its extensive exploration upside, offers a project producing up to 2 million carats of diamonds per year and projected annual revenues of up to $450 million dollars (Cdn) per year.”

“With its 11-year mine life, Renard is an outstanding development project and with financing discussions with lenders and prospective investors ongoing and progressing well, we have a view to first construction mobilization prior to the end of 2013.”

Probable Mineral Reserves, as defined under NI 43-101, stand at 17.9 million carats, total Indicated Mineral Reserves, inclusive of the Mineral Reserve, stand at 27.1 million carats, with a further 16.9 million carats classified as Inferred Mineral resources, and 25.7 and 47.8 million carats classified as non-resource exploration upside.

President Manson said that all kimberlites remain open to depth and that the pre-production capital cost stands at an estimated $752 million (Cdn), with a life-of-mine operating cost of $57.63/tonne giving a 67% operating margin over the 11-year life of mine.

As mentioned earlier, the road (initially estimated to cost $77 million) is a major key to the future of the Renard Diamond Mine and Stornoway acknowledges that without the help of local Cree contractors, it would have been very difficult, if not almost possible to complete.

The knowledge and understanding of the local terrain by the Crees of Eeyou Istchee helped Stornoway and its contractors map out the safest and most direct route to the site to help ensure minimal disruption to the environment.

Dealing with wetlands and harsh weather conditions posed many challenges but again, Stornoway credits much of the success of the project to the contractors listed in the adjacent box.

ROAD AND BRIDGE CONTRACTORS

Stornoway’s contractors include:

• The Eskan Company, the Development Corporation of the Cree Nation of Mistissini, and Swallow-Fournier Inc. for road construction.
• Nordic Structures Bois, a wholly owned subsidiary of Chantiers Chibougamau Ltee, for bridge construction.
• Jos Ste-Croix & Fils Ltee of Chibougamau for construction management.
• The Eenatuk Forestry Corporation for tree clearing.
• The Kiskinchiish Corporation for camp services and catering, and
• Petronor, a wholly owned Cree enterprise, for fuel supply.

While the overall construction of the road stands at 50 per cent and is not yet open for public use, all temporary bridges have been completed and nine of 16 permanent, laminated-wood, single-lane structures have been installed to allow for truck traffic.

More than 80 per cent of all culverts have been installed, and approximately 1.6 million tonnes of gravel has been extracted from seven borrow pits along the route.
One the mine goes into production, Stornoway’s Diamond Project is predicted to be one of the more talked about diamond mines in the world and thanks to the new Renard Road, vistors will get a first-hand look at why the company is so excited about this project.

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