After being shut down for more than a year, the Lac Des Iles palladium mine is now back in production.
The operation, located about an hour north of Thunder Bay, has 180 people back on the payroll.
The mine closed in October 2008 because of low palladium prices. That price is now back up to $520 an ounce and officials with North American Palladium say the restart is well-timed to capitalize on the increase. Underground mining actually resumed about three weeks ago but company president William Biggar said they held off on the announcement until now as production of palladium concentrate just started Wednesday.
Palladium is used in mufflers for motor vehicles. Biggar said the operation plans to produce 140,000 ounces this year to feed growing demand in China and other developing countries.
Steelworkers Union president Herb Daniher said although he's pleased to see the mine reopen, he's not happy with the rehiring process. He said the company did not call back a large percentage of former Lac Des Iles workers and instead had an open hiring to rebuild the workforce.
The mine has an estimated lifespan of about 12 years.