The mineral sector in Northwestern Ontario: An economic driver
Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario are hosts to new world-class gold, copper, nickel, palladium, graphite, chromite, and iron deposits.
Northwestern Ontario mines produced $1.81 billion of metallic minerals in 2013; that number is expected to grow annually over the next decade.
Current production from existing mines is one million ounces of gold annually. Twenty-five million ounces of new gold resources have been discovered in the area.
Exploration/mining companies are expanding or continuing to move closer to actual production in the region:
North American Palladium Ltd. (Lac des Iles) continues to increase production at the Lac des Iles Mine following a $400-million mine expansion. Aggressive exploration of various palladium zones on the mine footprint continues.
Premier Gold Mines Ltd., (Geraldton) continues to explore its seven-million-ounce TransCanada Gold Project. A positive preliminary economic assessment (PEA) was released for the Hard Rock and Brookbank gold deposits.
Rubicon Minerals Corporation (Red Lake) completed the production shaft on the Phoenix Gold Deposit. Mill construction continues with the goal of gold production by mid-2015 at a rate of 2,500 tonnes per day.
New Gold Inc. (Fort Frances) continues to advance the Rainy River Resources project to production. A positive feasibility study was released for the gold deposit. The completion of the environmental assessment in 2015 will lead to construction in 2015, and production by mid-2016.
Goldcorp Inc. (Red Lake) has completed the underground railway (tramway) to access the five-million-ounce Cochenour Gold deposit under the waters of Red Lake. Production from the Cochenour Deposit is scheduled for 2015.
Rockex Ltd. (Pickle Lake) completed a positive PEA for the one-billion-tonne Lake St. Joseph iron deposit.
Treasury Metals Ltd. (Dryden) continues with the environmental assessment process moving toward completion of an environmental impact statement on the Goliath gold deposit. Treasury is working toward a feasibility study. The Goliath hosts 1.7 million ounces of gold; production is planned for 2015/16.
Zenyatta Ventures’ (Hearst) 25.1 million tonnes grading 3.89 per cent graphite carbon is present at their Albany Graphite deposit. Zenyatta was the top-performing stock on the TSX Venture in 2013. Graphite of the spectacular grade contained in the Albany deposit has numerous high-tech uses, including electric vehicles. Pilot plant testing conducted in late 2014 was successful.
Noront Resources (Ring of Fire) is planning significant exploration, geotechnical and development work on the Eagle’s Nest nickel-copper mine. Noront has spent over $200 million to date on exploration.
Mining Readiness Strategy
The Mining Readiness Strategy is a comprehensive, inclusive and integrated economic development plan designed to help Northwestern Ontario stakeholders focus and capitalize on the many opportunities that mining development will bring to the region.
The strategy was commissioned by the City of Thunder Bay, the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC), and the Fort William First Nation (FWFN), with funding support from a number of partners including FedNor, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, and other contributors such as the Thunder Bay International Airports Authority Inc., the Thunder Port Authority, Thunder Bay Hydro, TBay Tel, the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA), Lakehead University and Confederation College.
Introduction and strategy context
The Northwestern Ontario region is forecasting significant mining development. This growth is expected to result in substantial economic and social development for Thunder Bay, its surrounding municipalities and First Nation communities. The discovery and development of major gold deposits, nickel in Northwestern Ontario’s Ring of Fire, and other mineral resources in Northwestern Ontario, including graphite, are expected to create a variety of business opportunities that positively influence the region’s economic outlook. This growth will place unique pressures on infrastructure and government services, as well as the current and future mining labour market.
Five new gold mines will come into production in the next four years, adding to Northwestern Ontario’s annual gold production total of approximately one-million ounces (25 per cent of Canada’s total). New gold mines will include: Phoenix (Rubicon Minerals Corp.), Cochenour (Goldcorp Inc.), Rainy River (New Gold Inc.), Goliath (Treasury Metals Inc.) and Hard Rock (Premier Gold Mines Limited).
For more information, please visit: www.ThunderBayCEDC.ca.