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Holt Complex miners have to hit the road to stay with Kirkland Lake Gold

Mining company indefinitely suspends operations at Matheson-area mines
Holt Complex 2 (KL Gold photo)
Holt Mine (Kirkland Lake Gold photo)

More than 200 employees of Kirkland Lake Gold, left in limbo by COVID-19 and the shuttering of the Holt Complex near Black River-Matheson, have accepted new positions within the company.

The Toronto mid-tier mining company announced on July 16 that its decision in early April to shut down operations at the Holt mine is now being extended indefinitely.

In a statement, company president-CEO Tony Makuch said more than 220 employees out of its workforce of 475 at Holt Complex have been re-assigned to new positions or offered new roles within the organization. The release did not provide further specifics or a breakdown of the destination of these workers with the company's other northeastern Ontario operations.

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The company operates the Macassa Mine in nearby Kirkland Lake and the remote Detour Lake Mine, north of Cochrane, along with the Fosterville Mine in the Australian state of Victoria. 

The company said activities were suspended at the Holt complex due to the global pandemic this past spring while a strategic review was conducted to assess a potential restart of operations.

The Holt complex, comprised of  the Holt, Taylor and Holloway mines and Holt Mill, were designated as non-core assets back on February 19.

The company attributes Holt's high cost structures, low grades, diminishing reserves, and the need for reinvestment in these operations as factoring into the decision to suspend operations.

“When we transitioned Holt Complex to suspended operations in early April, our first step was to provide base wages to all affected workers for the first month," said Makuch in today's release.

"We also began working to identify opportunities to re-assign as many employees as possible from the complex to new roles at other sites within our Canadian operations. 

"In cases where it is not possible to find alternative employment arrangements, and where employees have been on an extended temporary layoff, we now believe that the best course of action is to provide severance packages.

“Extending the suspension of operations at Holt Complex was a difficult decision. I want to personally thank everyone at the Complex for their efforts and contribution to our company.  Going forward, we will continue to review strategic options for the Holt Complex properties, including the potential for additional exploration activities in the area.”