The lights in Timmins may not shine as brightly as in Los Angeles or New York. However, they are twinkling now through a sense of renewed optimism.
The first mine in the area (the Dome mine) was discovered in 1909. Since then, nearly 50 other mines have followed in and around Timmins. Today the two largest mining operations in the city are Falconbridge Ltd.’s Kidd mine and metallurgical divisions and Placer Dome Inc.’s, Dome mine. Kidd mines copper, zinc and silver, while the Dome produces gold.
The Kidd Creek mine went into production in 1966. The metallurgical division began with a concentrator in 1966, expanded in 1972 to include a zinc plant, and again in 1976 when the smelter and refinery started operating. Until recently, it appeared that the Kidd mine was only a few years away from closing, with its large and rich orebody depleted. However, based on a feasibility study, Falconbridge announced in July 2000 that they would be moving ahead with the development of Mine D (Deep), which extends the mining operations from 2,100 metres to 3,100 metres below surface, making Kidd the deepest base metal mine in the world.
The $640-million investment will be beneficial to both the company and the community, keeping the mine active for at least the next 15 to 20 years. Hundreds of jobs that were on the verge of being lost have been salvaged, with the guarantee of creating more jobs through the construction phases of Mine D.
The Resident Geologist for Timmins, Brian Atkinson, attributed the continued exploration and development of Kidd to tax cuts that encourage companies like Falconbridge to reinvest in deeper exploration from existing mines, and in the staking of new claims. Atkinson said, “Mining continues to be a major employer. Falconbridge alone provides jobs for over 1,600 people. We know that the history of Timmins is mining, and we hope that continues.”
Atkinson also discussed the Kam-Kotia mine clean-up in Timmins, and how crucial it has become under the Abandoned Mines Program. Studies are currently being undertaken, and Atkinson said that over the next two years, $9 million will be allocated to the clean-up of the Kam-Kotia site.
Growing the Local Economy
Just as markets are evolving throughout North America, Timmins has begun diversifying its local economy. Mining will continue to be a major employer in Timmins, but new enterprises have the people of this unique northern city excited about future prospects.
There is a feeling of optimism surrounding the city these days, and there is no greater proponent than newly elected Mayor Jamie Lim. Mayor Lim boasted of the Kidd expansion news, and praised the mining industry as a whole. Mining executives have worked jointly with city officials in doing their utmost to promote Timmins, and their plans for diversifying the economy. “The mining people who work here also live in Timmins, and they’re doing all they can to promote our city,” said Lim. However, the mayor also advocated the need for diversity, and new opportunities for Timmins.
Two major boosts to the economy are currently in the works. The Shania Twain Centre is expected to make an immediate impact on the tourism industry. Construction has begun on this $11-million project, scheduled to open in July 2001. The centre, co-located with the Timmins Underground Gold Mine Tour, highlights the achievements of Timmins’ own country singer, Shania Twain. It will include $1-million worth of Twain memorabilia, and is expected to draw tourists from around the globe.
The second large project underway is a 3,700-m2 call centre that is expected to create more than 400 jobs. The in-bound call centre is scheduled to open in the spring of 2001 and will be located in the heart of the downtown core.
Another positive addition to the city was the opening of the 80-hectare, 30-room Cedar Meadows Resort in March 2000. The general manager, Alain Boileau, says that response to the resort has already exceeded his group’s initial expectations. Boileau is encouraged by the announcement of the Shania Twain Centre, and said plans are already underway to expand the hotel. With a busy summer already behind them, Cedar Meadows was preparing feverishly for the Christmas season, where bookings have gone extremely well. Boileau said, “You need to start somewhere. Timmins can be a tourist attraction, and we need to start thinking in a positive way.”
It seems to be working, as though this positive energy is contagious. Kathy Keast, Economic Development Officer with the Timmins Economic Development Corp., says there is a noticeable shift in community confidence. Keast said the new projects are encouraging, to the point where companies are calling wanting to move into the downtown area in anticipation of the call centre opening, and response to the Shania Twain Centre has been extremely positive.
Keast acknowledged the importance of the Kidd expansion, the Shania Twain Centre and the new call centre, but she also mentioned other industries that benefit Timmins and have great potential for development. Kidd has capitalized on its innovative metallurgical technology, and has created a business selling the Kidd Process to copper refineries around the world. The city is even succeeding in using its cold climate as a marketing tool. Toyota and Jaguar have both established their North American Cold Weather Testing facilities in Timmins, and the city is hoping to attract more companies to test in Timmins.
Although it may never have the allure of ‘The City of Lights’, Timmins is growing as a major centre in northern Ontario. Mining will remain strong for at least the next two decades as Kidd digs deeper and deeper. Recent provincial and federal tax incentives will assist in the exploration and development of new mines. New jobs, economic diversification and a boost la Twain to Timmins’ tourism industry have lead to a real sense of optimism. Maybe we should look into the price of lights, just in case!