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Australian mine contractor moves into Hemlo

Barrick signs up Barminco to run underground operations at north shore gold mine
Barrick Hemlo
Barrick Hemlo Mine operations (Barrick Facebook photo)

Western Australian mining interests have been steadily scooping up gold exploration properties in northwestern Ontario. One company is mobilizing to run an underground gold mine in the region.

Perth-headquartered Barminco has signed a letter of intent with Barrick to provide underground contract mining at its Hemlo Mine, near Marathon.

Barminco bills itself as one of the world’s largest hard rock underground mining services companies in the world with operations in Australia, Asia and Africa.

This would be the company’s first foray into Canada, starting in April.

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Under the three-year, $200-million mining services contract, Barminco’s scope of work would involve mine development, production and haulage, and using mine equipment provided by Barrick.

In March 9 news release, the company said it anticipates employing more than 300 people at the north shore operation.

Barminco said what it brings to the table is the expertise to modernize and improve the performance of the mine.

Barminco is a subsidiary of Perenti, also a Perth-based global mining services company with 8,000 employees working both underground and at open-pit operations in 14 countries.

Perenti Group Managing Director Mark Norwell called the awarding of the Barrick contract a “significant” step in their international growth strategy to enter attractive and stable mining jurisdictions.

“This is Barminco and Perenti’s first significant contract in North America and builds on our regional growth capabilities, after expanding into Botswana last year with an $800 million-contract. We look forward to supporting Barrick to deliver outstanding results at Hemlo.”

Underground CEO Paul Muller is keen on improving Barrick’s performance.

“We intend to work very closely with Barrick and all key stakeholders, including the incumbent workforce at Hemlo, the Pic River and Pic Mobert First Nations people and the Marathon community more generally to deliver a sustainable improvement in performance, thereby assuring the future of Hemlo.”

Barrick once hinted it was considered selling Hemlo but decided to keep it.

Some layoffs were announced last fall with the intention of making the move into contract mining as the open pit closes and operations shift underground. It should add ten additional years of mine life.

Since the 1980s, the Hemlo Mine has produced more than 21 million ounces of gold.