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Bust pays tribute to early mining pioneer

Benny Hollinger statue now greets visitors to open-pit mine lookout in Timmins
A bust of Benny Hollinger, an early mining pioneer in Timmins, has been erected at the city's Hollinger Open Pit Lookout.

The smiling face of an early Timmins mining pioneer now greets visitors to the open-pit lookout at Newmont's Hollinger Mine.

A bronze bust of Benny Hollinger, created by Sudbury-based sculptor Tyler Fauvelle, has been erected at the lookout.

Hollinger came to fame with his 1909 discovery of the massive gold deposit — one of the largest in Canadian mining history — that bears his name.

“This relief pays tribute not only to the development that came of Benny's discovery, but to all the prospectors, miners and industry workers that followed,” Fauvelle said at a recent private unveiling of the sculpture.

“Their spirit of hard work and dedication lives on to this day.”

Fauvelle's artwork depicts a young Benny Hollinger in his signature hat and vest, and features a relief of the Hollinger Mine.

A wide gold vein at the back of the artwork symbolizes the historic discovery, and the captivating dream of all gold prospectors.

Hollinger's discovery was one of the largest at the time, part of Timmins' legendary gold mining rush.

While exploring an area west of Porcupine Lake with his partner, Alex Gillies, Hollinger stripped away some moss from an outcrop to reveal gold in a quartz dyke over 1,000 feet in length.

Without the funds to develop a mine, Hollinger sold the property to a group of stakeholders that included the Timmins brothers for $165,000.​

​Over its nearly 60-year lifespan, Hollinger underground mine produced roughly 19 million ounces of gold worth nearly $600 million. The operation closed in 1968.

In 2007, Goldcorp, then the mine's owner, announced plans to develop Hollinger as an open-pit operation, with the lookout built into the plans. (Newmont acquired Goldcorp and its assets in 2019.)

After eight years in operation, the pit is set to close by the end of 2024, but the lookout will remain available for visitors.​

Hollinger Gold Mines in 1913 | Photo from Library and Archives Canada

​Dawid Pretorius, Newmont Porcupine’s mine manager, welcomed the bust as part of the company's ongoing remediation plans for the site.

“The bust of Benny Hollinger is not only a great addition to the lookout but plays a significant part in respecting the history of mining in Timmins, especially the Hollinger Mine,” said Pretorius in a May 31 Newmont release.

Fauvelle has been prolific in his work, with several pieces on public display around the region, including a prospector's memorial in Kirkland Lake, a statue of Canadian country musician Stompin’ Tom Connors in Sudbury, and a tribute to Shannen Koostachin, an advocate for Indigenous educational rights, in New Liskeard.