Sense of optimism is quite contagious

As we approach the Christmas season and the start of another year, it is a time to reflect on the past one.
I’m left with a feeling that across the district—from Atikokan to Rainy River to Nestor Falls—there today exists an air of optimism.
Prospecting, gold exploration, and gold mining have been with us for more than 115 years. I was reminded last Thursday that the first gold mining in the Osisko proposed mining area near Atikokan took place in 1895.
It was in the same time frame that gold was discovered at Little American Island and the community of Rainy Lake City was established on the U.S. side of Rainy Lake.
Little American Island proved to be a false claim, but the storm of prospectors who were too poor to travel to Alaska for that gold rush found their way to Rainy River District instead.
At the Hammond Reef site now known as Osisko, underground mining lasted for two brief spells, first in 1896 and again in 1937.
With the demise of the mine at Little American Island, Rainy Lake City disappeared and prospectors fanned out across the district. Mine Centre then became the boomtown with three gold mines: the Cone, the Foley, and the Golden Star.
At what became known as the Gold Rock mine, gold was discovered in 1898 on the Upper Manitou. Then in 1927, gold was discovered at Straw Lake.
Gold constantly has been on the horizon of booms in the district, and today we have bookends at each end with Osisko and Rainy River Resources both moving forward to create viable gold-producing mines.
As well, renewed interest is now being shown at Straw Lake and Mine Centre.
Interest in gold mining, and the employment of district residents in the discovery process, has created this new sense of optimism across the entire district.
Taking in “Holly Daze” festivities in Emo over the weekend, everyone was eager to discuss the mining happening in the district. And with the focus of both Rainy River Resources and Osisko to buy local, many millions of dollars are finding their way into businesses.
Fuels to drive drilling rigs, all-terrain vehicles to scramble around the staked property, half-tons, food, accommodations, and safety clothing and gear all are expanding the economy of the district.
As well, new educational programs are today being offered through Confederation College.
Drilling programs by Mineral Mountain Resources, Rainy River Resources, Bayfield Ventures, Q-Gold, and Osisko are putting the spotlight on Rainy River District. Each new announcement by the junior mining companies and exploration companies makes one want to believe that at least one sustainable gold mine will be in production before the end of this decade.
It also is causing councils from Atikokan to Rainy River to review their community’s infrastructure. How much more sewer and water delivery capacity will each community require? How many new building lots will be needed to accommodate the influx of permanent workers.
Where can work camps be established to house the thousands of workers who will construct the mines should they proceed?
Even the local school boards have to be thinking about where new schools will be built should a formal mine be announced.
Any mine will bring additional changes to the district and provide a boost to the economy. If both Osisko and Rainy River Resources come to fruition, the district will change forever.
It is that sense of optimism that is so contagious.

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