Goldcorp's Porcupine Gold Mines plan to develop an open pit mine on the site of the historic underground Hollinger gold mine brings a series of environmental and economic benefits to Timmins. The company has recently received its final environmental approval for the project.
The plan has been under development since 2006. The aim is to recover gold through an open pit operation from the workings of a historic underground gold mine while simultaneously eliminating legacy environmental concerns and carrying out mine reclamation activities.
The projected workforce of 180 people will open 60 new jobs and the open pit gold operation is estimated to have an eight year mine life. Marc Lauzier, general manager of Goldcorp's PGM, which is an Ontario Mining Association member, says the company has three main goals with this development – reclaim the land, return as much land as possible to public use and recover the gold that is in place.
Goldcorp has already invested about $8 million in the rehabilitation of the historic site. The budget contains a further $10 million for reclamation activities on the 100-ha property. "Remediation actually starts right away and we will be doing reclamation through the life of the pit," said Lauzier. "In fact, most of it should be done by the time we are done mining."
The Hollinger mine, which was founded by Benny Hollinger and built by Noah Timmins and his partners, operated from 1910 to 1968 as an underground gold mine. During that time span, the mine produced more than 19.3 million oz of gold. The Hollinger site is located in the heart of Timmins.
"I grew up in the community," said Lauzier. "We want to have something that is a bit of a legacy that we can leave behind and that people can be proud of and that is still our ultimate goal out of this project."
Work is to begin right away on the construction of a berm surrounding the pit for safety and to control noise, dust and vibration. Operations will have a low impact on the surrounding community and the company will be seeking input from residents on future land use ideas.
Trish Buttineau, Goldcorp PGM's co-ordinator of communications and corporate social responsibility, says a small lake and walking trails could be part of the picture for the site in the future. An architect is working on future land use options.
"Within two years of the berm construction, we are looking at incorporating a trail network into the berm and we also going to have a lookout area," she said. "It will be controlled, we have to look at public safety first but we will have a spot where members of the public can go and actually watch mining activity taking place."
The Hollinger open pit plan is an example of building new gold mines from old sites. This project offers new employment and entrepreneurial opportunities as well as the spin-off benefits – including taxes. The positive economic impact will go hand-in-hand with the environmental rejuvenation of a historic industrial site. The future land use will appears to have the added bonus of offering educational opportunities and lifestyle enhancement for Timmins residents.
*Peter McBride is manager of communications at the Ontario Mining Association.