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TIMMINS MAYOR, overseeing the biggest mining boom in 50 years

Aug 10, 2021

He’s the man in the middle. As the current mayor of Timmins, George Pirie is in the crosshairs of the enormous activity happening in the massive Abitibi mining region.

By Kevin Vincent, Mining Life:

In early June, at the Mining the Abitibi Greenstone Belt Virtual Conference, Pirie broke the news that Glencore Canada’s Kidd Operations had confirmed they would be spending $50-$60 million on an 18-month feasibility study to potentially extend the life of the Kidd Creek zinc-copper mine with the development of what they tentatively call Mine 5 – the 5th massive orebody at the Timmins-based mining complex.
“Anybody who knows anything about mining knows that this is a very aggressive time frame. 18 months to do that type of study is very aggressive, and $50 to $60 million tells you that Glencore is committed to the orebody and the people of Timmins.”
Pirie’s announcement confirmed a story that Mining Life & Exploration News broke in 2018 and had been following ever since. Glencore had announced publicly that the operation would be closing in 2022.
Coupled with the big news in November of 2020 that Timmins’ Mayor George Pirie had worked with longtime friend Tony Makuch of Kirkland Lake Gold to relocate the majority of their Toronto corporate staff to Timmins where they are establishing a Canadian Operations Centre, and a slew of exciting exploration stories since he took office, it is easy to say that Pirie is overseeing the biggest economic boom in Timmins in more than 50 years.   
“Hang on to your hats, this is an exciting place to be,” said Pirie.
Pirie has a lot to be excited about. The list includes Kirkland Lake Gold’s Canadian Operations Centre, the likely extension of the Kidd Creek mine life, Canada Nickel’s exciting Crawford Township project, Moneta Porcupine’s near-term startup east of Timmins, Galleon Gold’s near-term PEA, and IAMGOLD’s Côté Gold project south of the city.
The former President and CEO of Placer Dome Canada says exciting niobium deposits in Chapleau and south of Moosonee are also enormous opportunities for the city and region.    
Pirie took a large portion of his Mining the Abitibi presentation to acknowledge the efforts of Canadian Trade-Ex and its virtual conference division, Virtex, in establishing the virtual conference and trade show platform that was hosting the event.
“As you know, nothing happened last year with in-person events and we can’t afford to have two years without this type of conference happening within the city of Timmins and Northern Ontario. And I look forward to next year, when we will all be together to celebrate the ever-popular Canadian Mining Expo once again. It’s a tremendously important expo and conference for the city of Timmins, for Northern Ontario and Canada. And we welcome everybody back here next June.”
“I want to say again first, before we get into the conference, a little bit about what the Canadian Mining Expo means to the city of Timmins. It is organized by a Timmins Corporation. They do a fantastic job. They’re the largest private corporation in all of Canada that holds these types of events. And so, a big hats-off and pat on the back to Glenn Dredhart and his team. What they do is truely amazing.
A prime example of their dedication to the industry is the creation of this event. The Mining the Abitibi virtual event has 17 mining operations involved, 52 suppliers and service groups and 22 employment and training companies and they all took part to make this happen.
All of this happens because of a platform developed by Canadian Trade-Ex called VIRTEX.”
When it comes to the region’s potential, Pirie is a huge advocate of the work being done by the local resident geologist Zeinab Azadbacht.
“Perhaps the most significant announcement that was made during the last six months was the fact that the new regional geologist in the Porcupine is focusing on rare earths and that’s a significant change from the priorities of the past which were focused on precious metals and base metals.”
Pirie says it’s an incredibly important announcement, because the future of the world’s economy is going to be based on electric locomotion. “Battery technology and rare earths are critical for that to happen, rare earth elements.
China controls them right now and the opinion of our regional geologists, the land that we sit on right now has untold potential to unlock the secrets of these rare earth elements, particularly within, I believe, the Kapuskasing structure.”
Almost on cue, there was a discovery 20 miles just west of Otter Rapids that found lithium and rare earth elements. “It’s got a significant geological signature with it, and I know they’ve got a program scheduled for the fall of this year and we’re really looking forward to those results. It’s a significant change in focus for our region.”

Pirie is genuinely excited about Canada Nickel.

“Canada Nickel sits just directly to the north of us and you’ll be very well aware of the fact that they’ve had a very positive PEA and we know it’s early days, but these are very, very good numbers.
We know this resource just north of Timmins will only grow. We know that they’ve already got chrome with nickel, and copper as well is there. And this resource is just going to get bigger.”
“Why are we tied into this focus on rare earths? Because of course this rock is hosted in serpentine, the serpentine will absorb carbon. So, there’s an opportunity here now to produce nickel with zero carbon emissions. If you were listening to me at the FONOM conference, May 18th, you heard me talk about the potential of what that means - producing nickel in a carbon neutral fashion. I said that if Elon Musk was here, that he would be ecstatic to find out that this is possible. And it’s possible to do it within the city of Timmins because of serpentine. And we have a lot of serpentine in our region.”
Pirie says he can’t say enough about it. He’s cautiously optimistic that this is going to be a huge game changer for the city of Timmins. “If you combine chrome and ferrochrome with nickel, of course, you’ve got the recipe for stainless steel. And again, that’s on our radar here within the city of Timmins. “We’ve got four main platforms in the city’s plan and diversification is one of them and stainless steel fits right within that diversification along with, of course, upgrades to the rail facilities that we’re all talking about with the port in Moosonee.”
In five to ten years, Pirie predicts that most people won’t recognize the city’s economy as it transitions to the production of rare earth elements in addition to the production of precious metals.
“Lake Shore Gold (Pan American Silver) is doing very well. They continue to expand the resource and reserves of their operation and are working very aggressively to expand the transportation corridors that we have within the city of Timmins.”
He says Newmont is moving aggressively into the Pamour Open Pit project and he says he can’t say enough about what they’re doing at the Hollinger pit.
“The grade of the Hollinger pit is 1.3 grams which is a huge reserve to be mining in an open pit facility and I’m hoping that they give some thought to how they can expand that pit, because it’s 1.3 grams per ton compared to about a 0.75 or 0.5 gram resource that’s being mined at Detour – it’s huge.”
Pirie caps off his comments about the city’s future by re-emphasizing the significance of Kirkland Lake Gold’s commitment to Timmins.   
“Tony Makuch is from Timmins and he’s a local champion.
You’ll be very well aware of the drilling that has joined the east and west pit so we can look for decades of production from the deep Detour Lake pit. And as you know, Kirkland Lake Gold under the leadership of Tony has announced an administration center that’s being built right here on the junction Highway 655 and Laforest Road that will employ about 200 people.
They’re doing that because they believe in the city of Timmins, they believe in the people of Timmins, and they believe Timmins will be able to attract the employees that are going to be required to support these new growth facilities.”

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Front Cover Mining Life Summer 2021


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