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Kirkland Lake engineering tech sharpens his skills in mineral exploration

Dixit Patel filling the local drill bit reconditioning need with newly launched Norsmiths Mining Solutions
Norsmiths Mining Solutions' staff includes (from left) Dixitkumar Patel, CAO and owner; Madhavi Purohit, director of human resources; Nigel Babin, business development officer; and Mark Williams, director of operations.

Kirkland Lake entrepreneur Dixitkumar (Dixit) Patel is at it again.

The local restaurateur, who owns several restaurants in Kirkland Lake and Timmins, is expanding his skill set to the mining industry with Norsmiths Mining Solutions, which reconditions and sharpens drill bits used in mineral exploration.

As mining activity in the region kicks into high gear, Patel said there’s an increased need for industry-related services, especially in a historically mining-rich area like Kirkland Lake.

“As mining is a main industry for our community, and the main reason of its own existence, there is an abundance of various services which this industry relies on/requires for its daily operations and drill bits sharpening is one of them,” Patel said.

Reconditioning and sharpening drill bits improves their effectiveness, while lengthening their lifespan and minimizing downtime. It’s cheaper than purchasing new, giving mineral exploration companies a more affordable option to keep the drills turning.

Norsmiths is currently the only business of its kind in the northeast region.

Patel said that the idea for Northsmiths started as a concept back in January 2021, and it wasn’t until late October of 2021 when the business was registered.

“Once the process started we have spent an extensive amount of time and efforts to research the business and its model, based on the requirements, techniques and affordability,” Patel explained.

“Over time we were able to tackle a bunch of milestones which included partially securing finance from different institutes and investors, developing strategies and finally acquiring our location.”​

​The name Norsmiths is derived from the words ‘North,’ for the region in which it operates, and ‘smith’ as a nod to the art of goldsmithing.

“As being part of this Northern community — our motto is ‘From the North and for the North’ — we wanted to be always recognized by the name of our community and also our expertise,” Patel said.

“That’s the reason we have decided to brand our business name, which represents us dually.”​​

Norsmiths Mining Solutions has recently opened in Kirkland Lake, offering drill bit sharpening services to the regional mining industry. | Norsmiths Mining Solutions photo

​​On March 4, at the annual convention of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, Norsmiths was awarded funding of $200,000 through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. (NOHFC).

Patel said the provincial funding will help to offset some of the costs associated with startup, including leasehold improvement, purchasing equipment, marketing, information technology services, and hiring staff.

Norsmiths currently has three full-time staff members and will be hiring to fill eight to 10 full-time positions once the business is fully operational.

“With the help of the NOHFC monetary commitment, it will definitely help us to fast-track some of the milestones in the near future to get right into full operations, as currently we are in operation partially,” Patel explained.​

​Located on Duncan Avenue in the heart of Kirkland Lake, the facility consists of a total of 15,000 square feet of combined shop area and corporate office and administration space.

“It also includes the resharpening bay, quality control/reconditioning bay, loading and unloading bay, and inventory storage area,” Patel explained.

“We currently have eight prototype machines which we use and modified for trial runs for our current vendors’ needs and requirements.”

Norsmiths has already provided services for clients including Sandvik and Dynamik Group, and the company is working with some local contractors as well.

Patel, who hails originally from India, has made his mark during his decade-plus in Kirkland Lake.

Patel is a 2014 graduate of the environmental technician program at Northern College. After his first academic semester, he got hired by the Town of Kirkland Lake as a co-op student.

Upon completion of his studies, he got an internship at the town in the engineering department and was later named the town’s engineer. He has been actively involved with the mining sector and its needs since.

“During this time I had learned and experienced so many things which I found greatly beneficial for my personal and professional growth,” Patel explained.

“The support and mentorship I had received over the years from the coworkers and residents is priceless.

“There are so many great qualities Kirkland Lake has to offer, which I can’t list them all, but in short, Kirkland Lake is what I call home for the past many years now.”

Patel said he initially started investing in real estate as per the community’s needs and, since then, he said, he is constantly exploring and expanding in various sectors that are beneficial for the community.

Included in his real estate portfolio is Quesada Burritos and Tacos, a Mexican-themed fast food restaurant he opened in Kirkland Lake in 2019, and a second Quesada location he launched with a partner in Timmins in 2021.

Last December, Patel and a partner purchased the Federal Tavern, a historic local watering hole that’s been in operation for 75 years.