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Northern Ontario an oasis in the global mining market

by Dick DeStefano
Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal August 2012

Northern Ontario is booming. Some would say we’re experiencing a mini super cycle and will continue to do so for at least three years with an expectation to extend to five and, some say, for 95 years more. Others warn of a commodities downturn for a short period until China and India ramp up again. Its all about cycles.

The Honourable Joe Oliver, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, recently highlighted the importance of the mining industry to Canada’s economic growth and long-term prosperity. He acknowledged Sudbury as a centre of job creation and innovation in the Canadian mining sector.

We are talking about billions of dollars of capital and operating investments and major exploration activity. Highlighting every active mine and potential new mining enterprise is a difficult task, but we can offer some of the recent significant activity.

Canada saw its gold production increase last year, with production totalling 110 tonnes compared to 91 tonnes in 2010. The majority of the nation’s gold comes from Ontario, which is the home of Goldcorp’s flagship Red Lake Mine Complex. About half of the country’s annual gold production comes from Red Lake.

The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) recently received a report from the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) that outlined the following data.

•About $500 million was spent on exploration in northeastern Ontario in 2011.
•There are 152,000 active claim units in northeastern Ontario, representing almost half of Ontario’s total.
•More than half of the region’s active claim units – 79,139 – are located in the Timmins area (Porcupine Mining District).
•Approximately 300 active exploration programs in the region are being conducted by junior explorers and senior mining companies. More than 20 are at the advanced exploration or pre-development stage.
•Kirkland Lake Gold is raising $50 million to expand its gold mining operations.
•In 2010, Vale announced a planned five-year investment program of $10 billion across Canada to enhance and expand its Canadian operations. Approximately $3.4 billion of this amount is being spent on modernizing Vale’s Sudbury Operations.
•Detour Gold’s Detour Lake project, currently in its $1.45-billion construction phase and on track for being operational in 2013, has the potential to become one of Canada’s largest gold mines.
•Goldcorp is spending $70 million on a development project at its Hollinger operation in Timmins.
•Aurico’s Young-Davidson gold project hopes to reach commercial production by the end of this year in Matachewan.
•Vale’s Totten Mine west of Sudbury is expected to open in 2013 at a cost of $750 million.
•Lake Shore Gold recently announced plans to target a reduction in its 2012 capital spending program of $15 to $20 million while remaining on track to achieve its key production target of producing 85,000 to 100,000 ounces of gold in 2012.

Armistice Gold’s McGarry Mine in Virginiatown in northeastern Ontario continues to make solid progress, forecasting gold production of 25,000 ounces in 2012 and 40,000 ounces in 2013
Wesdome Gold Mines Ltd.’s Mishi Mine near Wawa is in pre-production development.The Wawa gold camp has two producing mines: Wesdome Gold Mines, 50 kilometres to the west, and Richmont Mines, 83 kilometres to the northeast
The Victor Mine, located in the James Bay Lowlands, is Ontario’s first diamond mine. Last year, De Beers spent $101 million on goods and services, of which $57 million was supplied by Aboriginal businesses.

In her June 2012 annual update to the community, Marianne Matichuk, Mayor of Greater Sudbury, herarlded KGHM’s (formerly QuadraFNX) $750-million Victoria project, which she called “one of the most significant discoveries in Sudbury in the last four decades.” She also highlighted Xstrata Nickel’s $119-million Fraser Morgan deposit, and the estimated $200-million investment into the company’s smelter, not to mention the recently commissioned $920-million Nickel Rim South Mine, Sudbury’s first new mine in 30 years.

Worldwide demand for support services and products for mines is estimated at more than $300 billion per year. Northern Ontario has more than 500 mining suppliers ready to meet these needs locally, regionally, and internationally.

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