The Pine Point mining exploration project is sharing some positive news.
“I think the future’s bright for Pine Point,” said Jeff Hussey, the president and CEO of Osisko Metals Inc., during a presentation to the Aug. 11 online meeting of Hay River town council.
Hussey shared the positive results of a recently-completed independent preliminary economic assessment (PEA), which concluded that the zinc/lead mining and milling project would be economically viable.
“So it’s our first step to see if the revenues and the cost illustrate that it’s a project that we should move forward, and that is the case, as we said at the beginning,” said Hussey.
The PEA also makes recommendations for additional work.
“So we want to proceed towards a feasibility study,” said Hussey. “We’re also making a to-do list of field tests that we want to do in the coming years.”
The former Pine Point mine, located as close as 42 km east of Hay River, was operated by Cominco from 1964-1988.
Hussey said the Osisko Metals project would be bigger than what people have heard of in the past.
For the PEA, he noted the scale of the operation was upped to 11,250 tonnes a day, compared to about 10,000 tonnes a day for the Cominco mine.
“So this shortened the mine life with the resource base that we had,” he explained. “However, there still is another 10 million tonnes of resources that we will continue to look at and there’s ample opportunity to expand some of the deposits.”
The lifespan of the mine is currently anticipated to be 10 years.
Hussey said it is expected the project will be in an environmental assessment into 2023, if it gets community support and the necessary permits.
“We would then have a 16-to-18-month construction period, and start operations at the end of 2024,” he said.
Hussey said Osisko Metals foresees a zinc price hike in 2024-2025, noting that prices are low right now.
“The world is talking economic development,” he said. “And as soon as those projects come to fruition, they require zinc. All of the rebar and cement require zinc. Once the global economy picks up again, cars require zinc.”
Osisko Metals still has to raise money for the project, Hussey noted. “We’re working hard at that.”
Hay River town council welcomed the update on the project.
“It is good news,” said Mayor Kandis Jameson.
“It’s nice to see that this hasn’t gone by the wayside, this project, that it’s still going ahead,” she added.
Coun. Keith Dohey asked how many of the 456 employees expected to work at the mine when it is in operation will come from Hay River and surrounding communities.
“As much as is possible. It depends on the qualifications of people,” said Hussey, who noted that residents of Hay River, Fort Resolution and other local communities with experience at the diamond mines would be an obvious fit.
The current estimate is that about 145 positions could be filled by local people when the mine is operating.
An average of 280 people will be employed during the construction phase of the project.
The exploration camp at Pine Point had been shut down because of the Covid-19 pandemic, except for two employees for care and maintenance over the last few months.
Hussey said the camp started reopening in July.
“We brought in a couple of geologists and we’re slowly ramping up,” he said, adding that it is hoped that drilling will resume in August.
Along with Hay River, Hussey said Osisko Metals will be providing updates on the Pine Point project to K’atlodeeche First Nation, Fort Resolution, Deninu Ku’e First Nation and the Northwest Territory Metis Nation.