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Kidd Life of Mine hasn’t budged, However...

Jul 22, 2020

Employees, contractors and community leaders continue to wait patiently as Glencore determines whether the historic Kidd Creek mine will continue production.
 In the meantime, the company’s massive Highway 101 metallurgical complex is drawing strategic attention, thanks to a study Glencore is undertaking with Monarch Gold, a small, Quebec-based gold miner.   
 As it stands now, Kidd Creek, the deepest base metals mine in the western hemisphere just north of Timmins, is officially slated to stop production some time by the end of 2022.
 That announcement was made by the company several years ago. However, the timeframe took a different turn in mid 2018 when news broke that exploratory drilling in the deepest part of the mine had turned up promising mineralization, including gold – but Glencore isn’t a gold miner.
 Company officials quickly confirmed that the deep exploration program was real – but they remained tight-lipped on any details.    
 At the time, Mining Life reported that the mineralization was impressive - enough (according to multiple sources) to suggest the life of mine (LOM) could be extended for another 6-8 years of production.
 The challenge, however, continues to include a number of obstacles, not the least of which is engineering, extending the massive ventilation system to an even greater depth, and the economics of commodity prices.
 The official response from company officials on Life of Mine is as follows: “Kidd Operations is continuing to focus on optimising their operations to ensure that they can safely operate in the most cost efficient manner. At this time there is no official change to their Life of Mine, which is still officially end of 2022,” said the company in a written response to Mining Life.
 Which still begs the question, if the orebody is indeed open at depth, but it contains gold, who, or which company might take an interest in the entire complex?
 The Kidd Creek mine and metallurgical complex has gone through a slate of owners over its lifetime.
 The original orebody was discovered in 1963 by the Texas Gulf Sulfur Company. After a series of mergers and acquisitions that saw the profitable, multi-billion dollar copper-zinc operation change hands to the Canada Development Corporation, then Falconbridge, followed by Xstrata, and finally Glencore in 2013, it has reached a tipping point where the multi-billion dollar concentrator complex now holds the keys to the kingdom.
 Can part, or all of the complex be converted to gold production? One clue might be in the answer provided to Mining Life in the written response we received for this publication.
 Question: Given the MOU with the Quebec gold miner to study the possibility of processing their ore at the Kidd smelter, is the company, (Glencore) now, going forward or in the recent past, exploring other smelter agreements for the circuit that is apparently idle?
 Answer: While Monarch Gold is funding 100% of the Wasamac study, Kidd Operations is supporting the study by providing access to technical information and to the concentrator site. Glencore remains open to discussing business options that can optimize its Kidd Operation assets. They have participated in opportunistic conversations in the past and will continue to do so.
 Any gold miners in the area, which include multiple companies, would not lose sight of the fact that the Kidd concentrator has access to a rail system, water, gas, hydro, oxygen and more importantly, a tailings infrastructure to support ongoing production.
 As for the Kidd mine itself, Mining Life wanted to know if the project has been given a specific name. “This exploration project is targeting mineralization below 3km, below the current deposit known as Mine D, and has been unofficially referred to as Mine 5 exploration project,” said the company.
 In the meantime, on the longshot side of the race-track, city officials, including Timmins Mayor George Pirie, the former President and CEO of Placer Dome Canada, continue to hold out hope for Noront and the Ring of Fire.
 “The Kidd metallurgical is and has been a significant economic asset for the Timmins region since it was first constructed in the late sixties,” Pirie told Mining Life. “Thousands of individuals were employed there, and it generated significant annual payroll which supported regional housing development and retail spend.”
 “Additionally, operation of the facility resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in local spend on goods, services and capital projects. The site also generated significant contributions to the City’s tax revenues. All these facts are widely known and accepted,” said Pirie.  
 “What is less widely understood is that the site has similar potential to generate the same economic activity well into the future based on its status as a brownfield site complete with permitted tailings facility, power supply and water.  The infrastructure also has a functional gold circuit as well as the base metal, zinc, lead, and copper units.”
 “It could be the eventual processing facility for many local and regional mines as it offers savings in both time for environmental approvals and capital for construction. It could be the regional processing home for many projects currently in active exploration or feasibility study,” he added.  
 Pirie says Glencore management continues to seek partners for future use and the city looks forward to any future positive developments from the company.
 Unlike Quebec, where ore trucks on local and area highways are a rarity, northeastern Ontario miners, with the exception of Kidd Creek, haul their ore to the mills primarily by truck.
 The rail line system in the Rouyn-Noranda and Val D’or regions of northern Quebec includes five north-south lines built to accommodate the province’s mining industry.
 In the meantime, it remains to be seen if mining companies that operate in the Timmins camp are open to testing their ore at the Kidd concentrator.  


Tags: Northern Ontario / Processing / Metals / All Articles