Gold mine opening eyed for late 2015

Heather Latter

Having recently received positive results from the latest Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) of the gold resource at its site north of Barwick, Rainy River Resources now is ready to move forward with its Rainy River Gold Project.
The objective is to have the mine and associated gold-processing plant operating by the end of 2015.
It is expected to be a combined open pit and underground operation, with an average annual production of 330,000 gold ounces.
“Going forward from here, we still have a lot of work to do,” Garett Macdonald, the company’s vice-president of Operations, admitted yesterday morning.
“But we’re focused now on going through the process of permitting and feasibility,” he stressed.
The company, which has been doing exploration drilling for several years now, will be initiating the mine environmental assessment and permitting process in the first quarter of 2012.
The environmental assessment should be completed by the end of 2012, then the company will pursue its operational permits in 2013.
It expects to be able to begin construction of the mine early in 2014, with about a two-year construction period.
Kyle Stanfield, the company’s director of Environment & Sustainability, indicated such an operation will mean a capital investment of roughly $680 million over the next four years, resulting in the generation of 600 full-time jobs with an anticipated mine life of more than 13 years.
They also anticipate about 600 temporary jobs during the construction phase.
“Although it shows a 13-and-a-half year mine life, we are not stopping drilling,” Macdonald noted.
“In fact, we’re accelerating it to find additional resources to extend the mine life,” he stressed, adding it’s certainly possible the mine will have a longer lifespan.
“You don’t know what’s in the ground until you drill, so you have to keep drilling, keep exploring, and we’re going to do that and probably going to continue to find resources,” he remarked.
Rainy River Resources is very excited about the opportunities an operational mine would bring to the district.
“We know there are a lot of people who have moved to Alberta for work and there’s going to be a lot of opportunity for people to come back,” Stanfield said.
“There’s hope for families to have their youth come back for jobs.”
“And once we begin operation, I’m a big proponent of apprenticeship programs and training local talent,” echoed Mike Mutchler, chief operating officer of Rainy River Resources.
“So there will be a lot of opportunity for on-the-job training to become skilled craftsmen.”
Stanfield said the company plans to be out in the community over the next two years to keep everyone up-to-date on the process.
“We’ll hold open houses, information updates, which will be a key way for us to communicate what the plans are,” he pledged.
“It’s part of the whole environmental assessment process in Canada, and it’s part of being a good neighbour so people know what it’s all about.
“Some of that process will probably influence what the mine actually looks like,” Stanfield continued. “Certainly there are some things we are not able to change, but it’s going to be an exciting process.
“So people are going to get a glimpse into what this mine is going to look like very soon, within the next six months.”
And Stanfield said with the infrastructure needed to support the operation mostly already in place, this project stands out in Ontario as one that is truly “shovel-ready.”
“This project is very unique from an environmental perspective,” he noted, citing there are no lakes in the area. “It’s unusual for a new mine development in Canada to not have any lakes in the area.
“And there are no recreational or commercial fisheries in the project area.”
While it doesn’t simplify everything the company needs to do, there is less impact on the environment.
“We have established a very good relationship with the First Nations’ people here, which puts this ahead of most projects,” noted Mutchler.
Still, Macdonald conceded as the process moves ahead, there is always a risk, as with anything.
“Metal prices could to make it less economical. Metal prices often go through cycles,” he warned. “But I think we are in a unique area, especially for gold mining.
“World-wide, people are looking for gold anywhere they can find it.”
And Macdonald said the political risk is becoming more of an issue with companies mining in unsafe countries.
“What we have that kind of sets us apart is a safe location, surrounded by infrastructure, which will allow us to build a mine and operate it efficiently,” he explained, noting they won’t have a camp.
Instead, workers will live at home with their families.
As well, there’s a readily-available trained workforce—trained in aspects very similar to what Rainy River Resources will be doing.
“We have it all here and you don’t often find that anywhere else in the world,” Macdonald stressed.
In addition to the $680 million Rainy River Resources expects to spend over the next four years to get the mine up and running, it will continue to spend money throughout its life.
“These projects tend to grow and carry on, as you get deeper, as you understand more,” Macdonald noted.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” he enthused. “It’s nice to see it finally come to a point where you can see some light at the end of the tunnel.”
The Rainy River Resources’ management team comes from different senior mining companies, which have built and run operations before.
“Now we’re coming together on one mine,” Macdonald said. “The timing is right and we think we have a pretty neat project . . . and everything is kind of lining up for it.”
Assuming the process to develop an operational mine goes as expected, Rainy River Resources’ Rainy River Gold Project is set to be among the top 40 mines in the world, with the vast majority of those overseas.
“It’s going to be a really good thing for the Rainy River District,” Stanfield pledged.