Marc Lauzier, the general manager of Porcupine Gold Mines and Goldcorp’s operations in the Timmins gold camp, provided a vision for growth at two locations that could extend mining will into the 2030 and beyond.
Speaking at a Timmins Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Dec. 2, Lauzier detailed the present and future gold mining projects like Probe Mine at Borden Lake, near Chapleau, and the potential for developing the Project Century open pit at site of the current Dome open pit and Dome underground mine, which would engulf an area almost four times the current operation in South Porcupine.
With the eventual projected operations at Probe Mine and with Project Century fully on stream, an expansion of the Dome Mill’s capacity of 12,000 tonnes per day will also be required.
Lauzier kicked off his talk by pointing out the importance of Goldcorp and its predecessor companies — Placer Dome, Hollinger and McIntyre Mine — to Timmins’ economic and culture. Goldcorp inherited a 106 years of tradition.
The company contributes well-paying jobs with average salaries of about $70,000 for 750 employees and 250 contractors. It contributes $108 million annually in the purchases of local goods and services from Timmins and area.
In addition, Goldcorp contributes $900,000 annually to various charities and sponsorships for local sports and cultural organizations.
“I recall asking during the 20/20 process for developing the future plan for Timmins’ growth what focus mining would have in the plan and I was told mining would be de-emphasized in the 20/20 plan,” recalled Lauzier.
“I just want to say that it was mining that built Timmins; it is the reason why the city is here today,” he added. “The city should recognize we be the focus of economic growth for years to come.”
At the present time, Hoyle Pond is the source of most of the ore milled at the Dome Mill, with the Dome underground and Hollinger open pit contributing smaller portions.
“Even with the feed from these three mines, the Dome Mill is 3,000 tonnes under capacity,” Lauzier said.
According to Lauzier, Borden Lake, which Goldcorp purchased from Probe Mines a little over year ago, has vast potential beyond the mine itself, which will be administered through Porcupine Gold Mines and produce ore that will be milled at the Dome Mill.
“The Probe Mine actually is a small part of the future potential,” explained Lauzier. “We also purchased the exploration rights that stretch over 70 kilometres between Chapleau and Folyet.”
The Probe Mine will have, according to Lauzier, an eight-year life span and the potential to produce 850,000 ounces of gold.
“It’s long been a belief among geologists that the richest part of the Abitibi-Greenstone gold belt was to the east of Timmins,” said Lauzier. “The gold- rich area ran from Timmins east to Val d’Or and Malartic.
“Today there has been a rethinking of that view and we believe that the area west of Timmins has been underexplored and underdeveloped for gold mining potential,” he added.
The Probe Mine, which is scheduled to open in a year or two, will be the first all-electrical mine — in Canada and worldwide — providing battery-operated equipment that will replace heavy gas-emitting diesel fuel.
Lauzier also explained that the amount of truck traffic between Probe Mines and the Dome Mill would be about 50 over 24 hours, or about two trucks per hour carrying 40 tonnes of ore each.
“Considering that each truck movement represents four to five jobs for the Timmins area, this small addition to the traffic on Highway 101 is a small price to pay,” he said.
The most intriguing project discussed by Lauzier was the Project Century gold mine potential that would be built around the current Dome underground mine, which had its life extended indefinitely this past summer, and the completed Dome open pit.
Surrounding the two sites is an area that has the potential to produce about five million ounces of gold Lauzier said.
“Project Century has the potential for extending mining at the Dome, Timmins’ 106-year-old mine, for another 10 to 15 years,” said Lauzier.
“It has the potential for being the size of the Malartic open pit,” Lauzier added.
“Right now Project Century is still at the conceptual and pre-feasibility phase,” explained Lauzier. “It will take at least another five years to get the permitting and also the funding from Goldcorp to make it operational.”
Lauzier also cautioned that Project Century is competing with other Goldcorp domestic and international projects for funding to proceed.
“There is no need to do an advanced exploration and drilling at the site,” Lauzier said. “We have known since the 1990s, and the information has been refined over time, that there are substantial quantities of gold there.”
The gold is low-grade but the ease with which it can be obtained and milled will make the operation profitable to shareholders, Lauzier explained.
Lauzier also noted that the price of gold will also be a big factor. One advantage he noted for gold mining in Canada is that the costs are in Canadian dollars and therefore much lower, and the sales are in U.S. dollars, thus generating greater revenue.