By Ian Ross
In what is being heralded as a revival of the mining industry in Kirkland Lake, Foxpoint Resources Ltd., the new owners of the Macassa mine and mill, poured their first three gold bars in a ceremony attended by local dignitaries in mid-July.
“It’s the start of some of the cash flow coming in as opposed to everything going out.” laughs Brian Hinchcliffe, CEO and president of Foxpoint Resources Ltd.
The July 17 event was attended by company officials, investors, community leaders and townsfolk, many of whom were witnessing a gold pour for the first time since the mine and mill closed three years ago.
Rebounding gold prices - hovering around $303 (US) an ounce in mid-July - have breathed new life into the northern Timiskaming district by spurring a resurgence in development and exploration activity with Foxpoint and a diamond-drilling campaign north of Kirkland Lake by Queenston
Gold production at Macassa began in mid-May at the mill facility, which was once owned by Kinross Gold Corp., with Foxpoint processing about 60,000 tonnes of tailings in July, producing 5,500 ounces of gold.
The No. 3 shaft at Macassa has been reopened and though dewatering is ongoing, drilling is occurring on the 3,800-foot level with underground mining expected to begin by the end of the year, says Hinchcliffe.
The ramp at the nearby Teck Hughes-Lakeshore properties has been reopened and development is underway down at the 400-foot level, with plans in place to permit underground production and an underground diamond-drilling program.
“We are effectively feeding to the mill, ore from the surface, ramp and tailings, and will be producing 1,000 ounces to 2,000 ounces a week, and will be continuing to produce ore from the ramp as we reopen underground in December.”
Their plans are to produce 30,000 ounces between July and year’s end, with the hopes of boosting that to more than 100,000 ounces for 2003.
“It’s a turning point in Kirkland Lake’s history,” says Mayor Bill Enouy, who attended the gold pour. “And to have Foxpoint reopen the five former mines is really a positive for the town in attitude and psychological makeup, which gives us hope for the future and good economic prosperity for the next few years.”
Another company, Queenston Mining Inc. of Toronto has commenced a diamond-drilling program on its Lake Abitibi gold property 80 kilometres north of Kirkland Lake.
Their 13,800-hectare claim, covering a 22.5-kilometre swath of the Lake Abitibi deformation zone, is considered by geologists as a budding new gold camp.
Already some businesses in the town of 9,000, Enouy notices, are feeding off the activity, particularly trucking, mining exploration and drilling firms.
Prior to Foxpoint’s arrival, the Macassa mine and mill had remained dormant since Kinross shut down the facility in 1999 after being plagued by high production costs, labour strife and nose-diving gold prices. About 200 people were issued pink slips.
When Kinross placed the Macassa mine, the mill and several adjoining gold-producing properties - Lake Shore, Teck Hughes, Wright Hargreaves and Kirkland Minerals - on the selling block last year, Foxpoint jumped at the opportunity, finalizing a $5-million deal in December.
About 100 employees, including some contractors, are working on various developments and drilling programs on the site. More are expected to be added once underground mining begins and Macassa’s hoist No. 2 is re-opened as a production shaft within six to nine months.
At the time of the Foxpoint acquisition, gold prices were hovering between the $270 (US) and $280 (US) an ounce, says Hinchcliffe, but during their worldwide search for high-grade assets, they were convinced prices would rebound and that the best mining environment was in Northern Ontario.
Aside from their development and production work, Hinchcliffe is excited about exploring some new zones on the Teck Hughes property. The exploration stems from an aggressive surface drilling campaign launched during the spring, which yielded several high-grade results.
“For the first time all five major properties in Kirkland Lake are under one ownership and that permits us to explore across Tech Hughes and Kirkland Minerals and follow up veins of gold that went across the property lines that couldn’t be followed up in the old days.'
Foxpoint further announced the addition of former Falconbridge senior executive Warren Holmes to its board of directors.