A tiny township in the northern reaches of the Algoma District is hopeful for a big economic resurgence through the expansion of a gold mine.
Alamos Gold has announced plans to expand its Island Gold Mine operation over the next four years at a price tag of US$756 million — up from the US$538 million price tag of two years ago — with the aim of doubling its production to 2,400 tonnes of ore per day.
Once the expansion is complete, Island Gold Mine will become Canada’s seventh largest gold mine with an annual production at 287,000 ounces.
The mining company says 1,200 construction jobs will be created over the duration of the expansion project, with 600 jobs expected to be sustained at Island Gold Mine until 2039.
Dubreuilville Mayor Beverly Nantel hopes the project, which includes the expansion of the site’s bunkhouse, will eventually lead to more people choosing the township of roughly 600 permanent residents as a place to settle down.
“It may not be permanent residency, but that’s what we’re hoping will come out of it — it’s like when you go visit an area and fall in love with it, then you want to stay,” said Nantel.
The mayor says her township has been in a bad way since Dubreuil Forest Products shut down its sawmill due to lagging lumber prices and harsh economic conditions in 2008, taking its industrial tax base dollars with it.
“The town was grown and built around forestry, and there were businesses that sprung up because of that, that serviced the town, serviced the sawmill, that type of thing — then when they closed, Dubreuilville was not in a good place and people had to leave their homes to find work elsewhere,” Nantel said.
Alamos Gold, the mayor says, now accounts for about 10 per cent of the township’s total tax base. Nantel says that cash will allow the township to expand its capacity as the number of transient workers in Dubreuilville increases.
“This just helps us, with that money in the budget, to be able to do that and expand our capacity for the demands of what the mine is requiring of us,” Nantel said.
Expanding that capacity, Nantel says, could include plans to expand its industrial footprint as well.
“We’re looking at industrial property to help more small businesses that cater to the mining,” she said.
Rebecca Thompson, vice-president of public affairs for Alamos Gold Inc., says Island Gold’s projected operational activities during the life of mine are expected to contribute an estimated annual total of approximately $16 million in gross spending on goods and services, $14 million to the regional economy (in GDP), and $56 million in wages and salaries.
Thompson added that Alamos Gold’s mining operations in the Dubreuilville area also create economic spinoffs.
“The presence of the Island Gold mine has helped and will continue to create revenues and economic stimulus among local businesses. Where quality and technical factors permit, Alamos prioritizes locally sourced products and services to benefit the regional economy,” Thompson said via email.
But the mayor of Dubreuilville says the Toronto-based mining company is also contributing to the overall quality of life for people living in the township. According to Alamos Gold, Island Gold Mine employs 215 people locally — a little more than a third of its workforce at the mine.
“They’re also ensuring that families that live in Dubreuilville are hired and are working at the gold mine, so that ensures that they’re home with their families and they’re not having to travel elsewhere, which ensures that those property taxes are going to be paid,” Nantel said.
Alamos Gold Inc. will hire people for a number of roles during the construction phase of the expansion project, including welders, electricians, fitters, heavy equipment operators, HVAC technicians and health and safety supervisors among the key jobs.