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Video: Years in the making, Gogama's Côté Gold Mine now a reality

It took years of planning, permitting and financing, but ribbon was cut on modern new mine May 22

The most modern new open-pit gold mine in Canada had its official ribbon-cutting event May 22, with scores of mining executives and mine financiers there for the ceremony.

The event was held high on a windy plateau of land next to the huge mining pit created by IAMGOLD at Côté Lake in Gogama.

And while people snapped dozens of photographs, there was a steady roar in the background as massive driverless haulage trucks, as big as a house, drove nearby hauling tonnes of rock from the pit to the crusher and surface processing plant. 

Large autonomous haulage trucks kept moving and operating throughout the day Wednesday while the official ribbon-cutting ceremony was taking place at the new IAMGOLD Côté Gold Mine. Len Gillis/

The company reported its first gold pour on March 31 of this year.

The new Côté Gold mine has a history going back nearly 100 years in this part of Northern Ontario, with different mining and exploration companies sniffing around Chester and Yeo Townships since the 1940s.  

IAMGOLD acquired Trelawney Mining and Exploration Inc. in 2012. It was a move that caused a lot of excitement, given that IAMGOLD was seen as the right mid-tier gold-producing company that could finally develop the well-known deposit at Côté Lake, located just north and west of the Highway 144 Watershed. 

The company set off on a lengthy round of applications, permitting and jumping through the hundreds of hurdles involved in getting all the approvals needed not only to build a new mine in the wilderness, but also to move Côté Lake in the process to get to the gold beneath it.

This included extensive plans for building a mining camp, complete with workers’ housing and a full gold processing plant on site.

A cash crunch came in 2022 and IAMGOLD needed help, as construction of the mine site was underway and millions of dollars were being spent. 

A lifeline came in the form of a strategic partnership IAMGOLD struck with Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd. of Japan that allowed the Côté Gold mine project to move forward.

Côté vice-president and general manager Bryan Wilson. Len Gillis/

Côté's vice-president and general manager, Bryan Wilson, commented at the opening ceremony he was proud to have the company board of directors on hand along with several members of the Sumitomo Metal Mining company. He said the four years of construction and bringing the mine online was a long, hard job. 

Wilson jokingly quipped that it was now his turn to run things.  

"We've got many companies and suppliers that have worked with us over the last four years. And I'm going to say everybody's had their hand on the steering wheel. So we're super excited to have you here. And this will be my announcement to say ‘Get your hand off the steering wheel’ because now it's my turn to drive. Just saying," he said as the mining audience laughed.

Wilson said the new mining operation had already achieved several milestones since the day in September of 2020 when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford took part in the groundbreaking ceremony

In January of 2023, the first autonomous trucks began operating. In May of 2023, the company launched a series of autonomous Epiroc blast hole drills.

Wilson said it was in July of 2023 the mine began operating 24 hours a day in the open pit. The company has already removed more than 188,000 tonnes of muck out of the pit and in one recent day was able to crush 33,000 tonnes of muck. The other big event was pouring the first gold bars in March of this year. 

Ontario Mines Minister George Pirie. Len Gillis/

Also taking part in the opening event was Ontario Mines Minister George Pirie, who said he was first on the Côté site a few years back for the groundbreaking event. Pirie was at the site back then in his previous role as mayor of Timmins.

He said he was convinced at the time by Premier Ford that he should give provincial politics a try. Pirie said one of the things that convinced him was the fact that the Côté project took 15 to 17 years of permitting to become reality. 

"But 15 to 17 years to permit a mine is just not acceptable, especially with the need to discover and find and process critical minerals," Pirie told the audience. 

What's important, he said, is that the mine was eventually built with appropriate consultation with First Nations; with all the appropriate environmental considerations and will stand as a model for future mining for the rest of the world.

“Nobody does it better than Canadian miners, and nobody does it better than the miners in Northern Ontario,” said Pirie.

Len Gillis covers health care and mining for