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Newmont’s Social Acceptance Built on Trust and Engagement

Nov 14, 2021

The numbers at Newmont’s remote Musselwhite Mine in northwestern Ontario are up significantly over 2020-21, thanks in large part to the lessening impact of COVID-19.  
The fly-in operation employs an average of 860 full-time staff and contractors.
The company’s latest filings show that gold production increased 140% through mid 2021, primarily driven by higher mill throughput and higher ore grades milled. The higher mill throughput in the 2021 2nd quarter, as compared to the prior quarter was a result of the site re-starting processing activities in February 2020, following a devastating conveyor fire in March 2019.
All of the ore travels to surface via the conveyor system where it gets stockpiled for the mill.
In December 2020, the company announced the completion of two key projects at its Musselwhite with the full commissioning of the mine’s conveyor system and the material handling project.
“I am extremely proud of the work that has been completed by the team at Musselwhite to safely deliver these two critical projects, whilst managing through the unprecedented challenges caused by COVID-19,” said Newmont’s President and CEO Tom Palmer at the time. “Musselwhite is an important part of our North America region, and with the commissioning of these two projects is positioned to contribute to Newmont’s portfolio for many years to come.”
The conveyor system and the material handling systems work in association to efficiently move material from deeper mine levels to the surface. Haul distances are reduced as the ore crushed at depth will be hoisted from the underground crushers to the conveyor system and brought to the surface for processing.
On the community front, the Sioux Lookout Friendship Accord and their signatory communities, including Musselwhite (Cat Lake), have secured a partnership with Northern College’s Haileybury School of Mines to establish the Sioux Lookout Mining Centre of Excellence.

Stope School Program Success In 2021, Musselwhite hosted 2 Stope Schools that included a total of 8 participants from local Indigenous Communities. All 8 have transferred into full time mining careers at Musselwhite. Of the 8 participants, 2 are female. Two more stope schools are scheduled for Q1 2022. The centre has a vision for First Nation youth to fully participate in the mining sector and the communities approached mining operations in the area to secure training to build a future labour pool. Musselwhite will participate with two to three intakes to be completed by March of 2022.

Newmont Grad School Picture 2020
Pic: Musselwhite’s 2020 Stope School program Graduates
Newmont Grad schoool pics 2021
Pic: Musselwhite’s 2021 Stope School graduates

In 2021, Musselwhite hosted two Stope Schools and the mine is currently hosting a Level 1 Industrial Electrician Apprenticeship with all-Indigenous participants.

AMSTEP Training - Musselwhite continued its support of the Aboriginal Mining and Skilled Trades Essentials Program (AMSTEP) with 9 indigenous youth participating in a virtual classroom sessions off site. AMSTEP is a partnership between Oshki-Pimache-O-Win: The Wenjack Education Institute and Newmont Musselwhite to bring Mining Essentials and skills training to Aboriginal youth from local First Nation communities. It is a work-readiness training program that includes Mining Essentials, pre-trades, and work experience. This is the 7th intake that Oshki and Musselwhite delivered. 3 individuals conducted on site work experience in July through job shadowing in the department of their choice.

Pic: Musselwhite’s pre-apprenticeship training
Pic: Musselwhite’s pre-apprenticeship training

Pre-Apprenticeship for Industrial Electrician –
Musselwhite partnered with Oshki-Pimache-O-Win: The Wenjack Education Institute to host an on-site Industrial Electrician Level 1 apprenticeship program beginning in Q3 of 2021. The pre-apprenticeship includes an introduction to heavy duty mechanic trade and mentoring expertise from Musselwhite’s own industrial electricians. The program is currently hosting 2 cohorts of 10 participants which are all indigenous youth from neighbouring FN communities. Through this partnership, we set out to equip and provide the opportunity for Musselwhite Agreement signatory and affiliates to begin a career as an Industrial Electrician.

Musselwhite also recently finalized an Indigenous Employment Plan which includes annual local employment targets.
The site met its 2020 target to develop an auditable system for tracking local or indigenous employment and set a 2021 target to achieve 2 percent year-over-year improvement in Indigenous employment, towards achieving 30 percent per the Agreement.

From Pickle Lake, the 150 km Northern Ontario Resource Trail accesses the remote mine road

Musselwhite is a fly-in, fly-out operation located approximately 500 kilometers north of Thunder Bay. Musselwhite’s ore is mined from two main zones below Lake Opapimiskan.
Musselwhite’s fly-in fly-out operation uses the Opapimiskan Lake Airport. The rotations for production and maintenance crews are generally 12-hour days 14-in 14-out. Due to the mine being a year-round operation these rotations entitle 168 working hours every 28 days, comparable to a standard 40-hour work week. This contrasts with seasonal jobs in logging, oil drilling and mineral exploration where the rotations have longer “in” times but only run for part of the year. Transportation of personnel is contracted to Wasaya Airways. The Dash 8 300 series was purchased by the airway specifically for the transportation of personnel from Thunder Bay to the mine.
Musselwhite has a formal agreement with First Nation communities and councils in the vicinity of the mine: North Caribou Lake First Nation, Cat Lake First Nation, Kingfisher Lake First Nation, Wunnumin Lake First Nation, Shibogama First Nations Council, Windigo First Nations Council. In addition to revenue sharing, the agreement includes targets for employment, training, and business development opportunities.
Musselwhite has an additional cooperation agreement with Mishkeegogamang First Nation.
Other service points to the mine include Pickle Lake and Sioux Lookout. Material (fuel, parts, explosives, reactants for processing, etc.) transportation is done by truck from the south.
Due to the remote nature of the area any vehicles coming to the mine are required to contact a member of the security team before leaving Pickle Lake and embarking onto the Northern Ontario Resource Trail. Approximately 150 km from Pickle Lake traffic leaves the Northern Ontario Resource Trail and enters the mine road, travelling the remaining 43 km to the mine. Traffic arriving at the site then notifies the security team of their arrival, due to non-existent cellphone reception at the site or along the road a log of traffic must be kept.
If a traveller has been out on the road for an unusual amount of time (generally 3 hours during the summer months) and cannot be reached by radio it is assumed they have encountered difficulty and a team is sent out to find them. The process is reversed for road traffic travelling the other direction. This procedure is vital in the winter months where the temperatures can drop to below −30 °C (−22 °F) and a driver experiencing engine trouble could otherwise be in a disabled vehicle without heat until another vehicle passes.

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