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Prime minister, premier break ground for new gold mine

Construction for IAMGOLD's Côté Gold project is expected to start in a couple of weeks

With ground officially being broken for the Côté Gold Mine, IAMGOLD’s president and CEO, Gordon Stothart, believes it’s the start of a 30-year operation.

IAMGOLD's Côté Gold Project is a joint venture with Sumitomo Metal Mining. In July it was announced approvals had been received to start construction at the Gogama-area site.

At a construction staging area for the mine, Stothart, Premier Doug Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, along with other dignitaries, broke ground for the project today.

Stothart expects construction to start in a couple of weeks.

The open-pit mine will be serviced by a fleet of autonomous haul trucks and drills.

During the construction period from 2020 to 2023, more than 1,300 jobs are anticipated. When the mine is operating, it will mean about 450 full-time jobs.

Its current potential is 18 years.

The company is continuing to explore in the area. Last year, Stothart said there was a discovery just over a kilometre away from Côté.

“Once you build that complex you’d really like to be able to continue to supply it with ore for as long as you can. My firm belief is this will be a 30-year operation,” he said.

The mine, said Stothart, will change the community.

“I’ve had a lot of experience through my career with mine development and it’s amazing from taking something that is really, purely raw… building an industrial plant that’s well-run, well-operated and generates a lot of value and puts a lot of money in the pockets of the people here and the pockets of the people in Ontario,” he said.

Today’s event has been eight years in the making, said Stothart.

It’s taken a lot of work from teams working with different ministries.

“The permitting processes are there for a reason. Yes, we understand things need to be done and things need to be checked and validated by the cold second eye, if you will, and we’re happy to do that. But sometimes bureaucracy will catch up with itself and things don’t move forward if there isn’t some impetus,” he said.

Trudeau said the federal government is focused on investing in the mining sector.

“It’s important we do it with an eye towards the future, which means sustainability, which also means partnership with Indigenous communities. And the way IAMGOLD has worked with local Indigenous communities is a model that we certainly see in many places across the country, we’d like to see in more places across the country. That’s something that needs to be worked on,” he said.

He also noted the provincial government and other partners have been working to create opportunities for Indigenous communities.

“As we work together on reconciliation there’s many potential projects around the Ring of Fire that are being looked at. We’re going to continue to make sure that they’re done right, but that we move forward in creating good jobs for Canadians in Indigenous communities, in remote communities and right across the country,” he said.

Once it’s in full operation, the Côté Gold Mine will generate more than $5 billion in wages, and contribute $10 billion to Ontario’s gross domestic product in its lifetime, according to the province.

"The opening of this mine is a prime example of how the Ontario government can help businesses grow and create jobs by cutting red tape and removing regulatory roadblocks, without cost to taxpayers," said Ford in a news release.

"I want to thank IAMGOLD for making this significant investment in Northern Ontario, which will create good-paying jobs for the local community and support the long-term prosperity of both the region and Ontario as a whole."