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New Matheson gold mine 'really big' for company, region

Long permitting process factored in, Moneta Gold seeks to start mine construction in early 2029
Moneta Gold CEO Gary O'Connor gives an update on the company's Tower Gold project at the Timmins Chamber's State of Mining on Sept. 29, 2022. (TimminsToday)

A new gold mine in the works is a big opportunity for Moneta Gold and for the area, says the company's CEO. 

This week, Gary O'Connor gave an update on Moneta Gold's Tower Gold Project at the Timmins Chamber's State of Mining event.

Located east of Matheson, the proposed underground and large-scale open gold mine's preliminary economic assessment was recently completed. It shows the deposit has a 24-year mine life.

“It’s really big for us and it’s big for the area. This will be the size of the largest operations here now and the resource base, it could go for 50 years,” said O'Connor after the presentation.

It will still be years before construction at the site starts.  The next step for the company is the pre-feasibility study. There's also still the environmental impact study, engineering studies and financing to set up. 

The goal is to start construction at the site in early 2029, which is about a 1.5-year process, said O'Connor. That would put Tower Gold in production in about 2030.

He said the company isn't "seeing any major issues" in terms of geotechnical or metallurgical challenges. They've also been monitoring possible wildlife habitats and species at risk for the past couple of years. 

The permitting process will be the longest process ahead, with the environmental impact study expected to be a three- to five-year process, he said. 

Overall, he said one of the main challenges ahead is the timeline for permitting.  Looking at other companies, he said the process is stretched out and causes delays. “It’s just the overall process and the ... responsiveness to addressing issues and getting back to you. I understand people put things in and then they wait six months, a year, months before someone responds. There just seems to be a lack of response time,” he said. Provincially, he noted some of the rules have changed. 

“They tried to make a one-stop shop so that you didn’t have different ministries, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing. The idea was to make the process quicker, but I’m not sure it did,” he said.

To be proactive, Moneta Gold is looking at what other companies have done to make sure they "tick those boxes" to avoid similar delays.

Because of the size of the Tower Gold Project, O'Connor also expects that the mine will be beyond the scope of the province and trigger the federal permitting process.

Tower Gold is about 100 kilometres east of Timmins. Moneta possesses seven gold deposits spread over a 12-kilometre stretch with resources down to depths of more than a kilometre (1,100 metres).

The average annual gold production will be 261,014 ounces through the first 11 years of production, with peak production expected in year six.

The company's head office is in Timmins and it has core storage and processing facilities in Timmins and Garrison. It employs 28 fulltime staff, in addition to contractors, with most of its services being contracted right now. 

It's expected the project will employ 500 people directly and 3,000 people indirectly. During construction, there will be about 1,100 jobs.