Northern Ontario doesn't appear to get the same kind of co-operation from the federal government as other parts of the country, and that has one local mining expert wondering why.
John Mason, project manager for mining services with the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission, said a partnership between Ottawa and the Ontario government to fund infrastructure would allow the two to share the risk but also share rewards.
He points to developments in northern areas of both British Columbia and Quebec that receive partnership from both the federal and their respective provincial governments to drive both electrical infrastructure for First Nations in addition to spurring mining developments.
“It’s a perfect scenario in terms of a catalyst for quality of life in the broadest context as well as providing an economic development catalyst,” Mason said. “And that’s being done, so why can’t it be done in Ontario?”
Power issues are significant and are being raised by both producing mining companies as well as prospective enterprises. Mason said that half of the new projects slated to come on the grid are open pit mines, which are more power intensive than conventional underground mines.
Not only is supply a worry, but so to is the cost.
These concerns have been identified and voiced on multiple occasions, including in the past month when the Ontario Power Authority met with the Red Lake area producing stakeholders.
“It’s a big concern, and we hope the Ontario Power Authority is listening,” Mason said. “Those fundamentals for power and electrical infrastructure, on the supply and transmission side, are needed right now.”
The CEDC launched a Mining Readiness Strategy in April 2013 which identified nine new potential mining projects throughout the region, with five of them being gold.
All of those projects are in various stages of development, from feasibility studies and environmental assessments to preparing for production.
Rubicon Minerals Corporation is expected to begin production out of their Phoenix Gold Project either by the end of this year or early 2015. Goldcorp is also building their Cochenour/Bruce Channel project which is centred around a five million ounce gold deposit in addition to their existing site.
Despite the recent dip in gold prices, Ontario Prospectors Association executive director Garry Clark is bullish on the market.
He said the biggest hit from the price decrease is less money available for exploration as investors get more conservative, but said there is still progress taking place.
The brightest light is the New Gold venture, after they bought Rainy River Resources and made that project their top priority in the country.
Clark said the region was hit by too many junior companies with interests competing for limited capital, but that a consolidation has been occurring that will allow companies to redirect their efforts