GREENSTONE, Ont. — A ground-breaking ceremony for Northwestern Ontario’s newest and long-awaited gold mine has been set for later this month.
The Oct. 27 event is to officially mark the start of the Hardrock mine at the edge of Geraldton, according to one of the partners in the project, Vancouver-based Equinox Gold.
The mine, which has the backing of local Indigenous groups, “will provide an important economic boost and long-lasting benefits to communities in Northern Ontario,” an Equinox news release said Friday.
It’s expected to take about two years to build the $952-million open-pit mine on the outskirts of town, which will require a partial realignment of Highway 11. The local OPP station will also have to be moved to an in-town location.
When operational, the mine is expected to create 500 direct jobs over an “initial” mine life of 14 years. More than 2,000 people are to be involved in the construction, Equinox says.
Greenstone Mayor Ron Beaulieu, who watched the project develop over an occasionally turbulent 11-year period, said he’s not surprised the mine is finally going ahead, given the level of pre-construction in preparation for the mine.
“You’ve got office buildings constructed, lots of trees cleared and a work camp ready for 600 people,” Beaulieu said Friday.
“It’s just created a lot of excitement for us.”
Added Beaulieu: “You won’t believe it, but there are still some people who are negative about the project. But I’ve always felt positive that it would go through.”
For several years, the main driver of Hardrock was Thunder Bay’s former Premier Gold Mines, led by its president, Ewan Downie.
The project seemed in doubt in 2019, when Premier and a former partner company feuded over the value of Hardrock’s deposit.
Then, at the end of 2020, Equinox announced a plan to acquire a 50-per-cent stake in Greenstone Gold Mines, the joint-venture company that’s developing Hardrock. That transaction put an end to the legal battle hanging over the project.
In the end, Equinox upped its project share to 60 per cent, with the other chunk held by New York-based investment firm Orion Mine Finance Group.
Earlier this year, Equinox CEO Christian Milau, who is to attend the Oct. 27 ground-breaking ceremony, sounded bullish about Hardrock.
“We are extremely pleased to increase our stake in this world-class Canadian gold deposit located in one of the world’s top mining jurisdictions,” Milau said in a news release.
“Hardrock will be a low-cost, long-life gold mine, bringing more than 240,000 attributable ounces of annual gold production to Equinox.”
Carl Clutchey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal