Company eyes fourth mine
St. Andrew Goldfields is expected to decide whether or not to establish a mine at its Taylor site, located west of Black River-Matheson.
It would be Goldfields' fourth gold mine in that area.
The other three mine are Holloway, Holt and Hislop which are located east of Matheson. The milling facility for those mines is on the Holt site, located near the Ontario-Quebec boundary.
"By the end of this year, we'll have a pre-feasibility study completed at Taylor and we'll make a decision on the development at that time," said Jacques Perron, president and chief executive of St. Andrew Goldfields.
Perron, along with other Goldfields top executives, were guest speakers at the the Timmins Chamber of Commerce Lunch and Learn session at the Dante Club in Timmins Wednesday.
There is already a ramping up of operations taking place at Goldfields' three existing mines and if the Taylor mine comes to fruition, the mill capacity will have to be increased.
"We believe at Taylor we're going to need 150 to 200 employees there," said Perron. "As well, if we do the mill expansion, we're going to need an additional 20 to 25 employees so we think in the next two to three years, we're going to be looking for another 200 to 225 people."
Goldfields currently employs more than 500 people at its three existing mines.
Perron is keen on drumming up awareness about his company and its projects, especially with the likelihood of job opportunities on the horizon.
"We would like to start to prepare people for that increase over time," he said. "We want to attract younger people, people in the area who are without employment at this time or people who are interested in the mining industry.
"So we're doing work with the schools and the region and the communities around us and the First Nation communities to see how we can interest people in the mining business and start to train."
Duncan Middlemiss, vice-president and general manager of East-Timmins Operations, said Goldfields scaling up its overall production at the Holt, Holloway and Hislop mines.
In 2010, the three mines produced 7,000 ounces of gold. This year, a substantial increase in gold production is expected with the total potentially reaching up to 90,000 ounces. For 2012, the company is projecting its gold production to continue its climb, potentially hitting 120,000 ounces that year.
While test drilling results show there a high grade of gold from the Taylor site there are some risks associated with its geology which makes the decision to develop much more challenging, said Michael Michaud, vice-president of exploration.
"The grade is much higher ... and the samples are spectacular," said Michaud.
"Taylor is more of a quartz vein whereas our other projects it's more of a sulphide replacement" where the gold is more more evenly distributed. "But at Taylor, it's very coarse grains, irregularly disseminated throughout this quartz vein so it's hard to predict with drill holes where the best grades ... You could drill one hole and hit this one coarse grain and you'd say, 'Wow, this is a great area,' But then you could drill 10 holes around it and hit nothing. So it makes it a little more high risk."
Michaud said if they proceed in developing the Taylor site, it will "substantially change the grade we put into the mill. That's because Hislop is lower grade so if we can get more higher grade from Taylor, maybe we'll offset one deposit with the other to kind of optimize the gold production."
Last year Holloway, which is an underground operation, produced about 57,000 ounces of gold. This year, it's going to produce about 25,000 which is a reduction of more 50%.
However, Perron said, "It's because we're transitioning from one area to another (on that site). Next year we'll be in the other area and at that point we'll be able to go back to the 50,000 ounces per year production.
Hislop is a small open pit producing about 1,500 tonnes per day at Hislop while Holt is an underground operation.
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