Facelift for the future
The MacLeod mine has been a landmark at the entry to the town of Geraldton in northwestern Ontario since 1943, when Highway 11, one of the province’s two trans-Canada highways, was completed.
When the mine was operating, it was a symbol that signalled prosperity. This changed in 1972, when the MacLeod mine closed after 34 years of continuous gold production. It was the last mine to operate in the area.
From then on, the landmark became, in the view of many, an eyesore, a reminder of the past. The site was not pretty: some of the surface infrastructure was left standing and it was 1986 before the tailings were vegetated. For over 20 years, the MacLeod mine and its owners presented this less-than-flattering face to the travelling public.
The transformation that began in 1995 was the result of a co-operative effort among a far-sighted community, a mining company and the government ministries that shared their vision. Today, the face presented to the travelling public on the Trans-Canada Highway is much improved. It includes a substantially rehabilitated historic mine that serves as a backdrop for a community tourism enhancement project. Features on the rehabilitated mine site that entice travellers to stop are a refurbished headframe, a Forest Fire Interpretive Centre, a Heritage Interpretive Centre situated on eight hectares of landscaped tailings, and, soon, a nine-hole expansion of the Geraldton golf course.
When Barrick Gold’s predecessor, American Barrick Resources Corp., purchased Lac Minerals Ltd. in 1994, it also acquired the liability of Lac’s closed mine sites, including MacLeod.
Barrick Gold Corp., through its subsidiary Lac Properties Inc., has contributed more than $4 million to the project in the form of the rehabilitation work that made the transformation a reality. In addition, Barrick has enlisted a world-renowned landscape architect, Prof. Martha Schwartz of Harvard University, to develop the landscape design for the tailings on which the Heritage Interpretive Centre is situated. This involved developing conceptual designs, and obtaining the input and approval of the citizens of Geraldton. The result will be a dramatic and colourful entrance to the town, with terraced scrolls of alternating green and gold grasses, and ramps carpeted with red wildflowers.
The existing nine-hole golf course in Geraldton was built by the MacLeod mine in 1937 with the aid of one of the era’s leading designers–Stanley Thompson, the man who designed the famous Banff Springs Golf Course. As only appropriate, the expansion is proceeding under the direction of one of today’s top golf course designers–Les Furber, who worked for many years with Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and in 1999 refurbished the Banff Springs course. His design for the expansion reflects Geraldton’s desire for a very challenging golf course.
Barrick recognizes dimensions of corporate leadership that go beyond profits, including caring for communities and protecting the environment. As John Carrington, Barrick’s vice-chairman and chief operating officer, said in his remarks at the official opening of the new Geraldton Heritage Interpretive Centre: “Our sense of social responsibility is just as important to our future as our financial strength, because they are interdependent.”
Barrick is proud of the role it is playing in the transformation of the historic MacLeod mine.