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Sudbury Mining Solutions

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Ontario’s mineral wealth takes centre stage

The resiliency of Ontario’s mining industry is once again on display as representatives of the global exploration industry descend on Ontario for the annual PDAC International Trade Show and Investors Exchange March 7 to 10.

You wouldn’t know that the worst global recession in more than a half-century is barely behind us. Base metals, especially nickel, are nowhere near the highs we saw in recent years, but even here there is some inkling of optimism. Ursa Major Minerals recently announced plans to begin mining at its Shakespeare Project west of Sudbury and Liberty Mines in Timmins is back in production. Meanwhile, Xstrata Nickel is working toward full production at its new Nickel Rim South Mine in Sudbury and planning to begin mining copper at its Fraser Mine.

Taking up the slack in Northern Ontario are gold and chromium. Record gold prices have fuelled a resurgence in exploration in Red Lake, the Beardmore-Geraldton belt, Timmins and Kirkland Lake. Furthest along is Lake Shore Gold, this year’s winner of the Ontario Prospectors Association Prospector of the Year Award. This new mid-tier miner has discovered high-grade gold in a virtually untouched region just west of Timmins and is nearing completion of a 710-metre shaft.

Also in northeastern Ontario, Detour Gold is nearing a production decision at the former Placer Dome Mine. Boasting a gold reserve of 8.8 million ounces, Detour Gold is looking at an investment of $863 million for a 45,000 ton per day operation producing 560,000 ounces of gold per year over a 15-year mine life. The first gold pour from Apollo Gold’s Black Fox Mine, 75 kilometres east of Timmins, took place in May 2009 and Northgate Minerals is planning to start construction on its Young-Davidson property in Matachewan this year with full production of 170,000 ounces per year slated for 2012.

It’s a similar story in northwestern Ontario, where Goldcorp has announced plans to build a five-kilometre high-speed underground tramway at the 5,400-foot level from its Red Lake Complex to its recently-acquired Bruce Channel deposit. Also active in the Red Lake camp are Premier Gold, Rubicon Minerals and Mega Precious Metals, among others. Elsewhere in the northwest, Brett Resources has announced a 6.7 million ounce deposit at its Hammond Reef Project in Atikokan and Premier Gold is planning to do 100,000 metres of drilling on its Hardrock Project in the resurgent Beardmore-Geraldton gold camp.

All of this is encouraging, but the most exciting news in the Ontario exploration industry in 2009 was the discovery of a world-class chromium deposit in the James Bay Lowlands. A 350-kilometre rail line, an open pit mine, a concentrator and ferrochrome processing facility will open up this undeveloped but mineral-rich region of Ontario’s Far North and kickstart billions in capital spending.

The global economy is still beset by challenges, but the mining industry is coming back to life and nowhere is this more apparent than in Northern Ontario.

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