Ontario’s Hemlo Gold Camp Celebrates 25 Years of Production

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

Barrick’s Hemlo operations organized a series of educational and celebratory events to mark the 25th anniversary of gold production in the Hemlo gold camp in Northwestern Ontario, near Marathon.  The Ontario Mining Association was pleased to participate in the activities.  Lesley Hymers, OMA Environment and Education Specialist, was on hand with an interactive display booth promoting careers in mining and the OMA high school video competition So You Think You Know Mining.

Back in the 1980s, Hemlo was the industry newsmaker and headline driver in Ontario.  It was the most exciting and largest mineral development in the province since the Kidd Mine in Timmins in the 1960s.  The Hemlo orebody supported three mines originally. Good old fashioned prospecting smarts, innovative geological thinking and interpretations and perseverance led to the discovery and development of this gold mining complex.  At the time, it was improbable to think that three headframes not more than two kilometres apart located within snowball throwing distance of the Trans Canada Highway were producing gold on previously explored ground.

The mine in the middle – Golden Giant Mine – began production in 1985 and it closed in 2006.  The mine in the east – David Bell – and the mine in the west – Williams – are still in operation today and part of Barrick’s fleet of global gold mines.  The Williams and David Bell mines share milling, processing and tailings facilities and the ores are co-mingled for the extraction process.  In 2009, these mines produced 275,000 ounces of gold.  Estimated proven and probable ore reserves contain more than 1.3 million ounces of gold.

Barrick’s Hemlo Mines, the OMA, PDAC Mining Matters educational program, Sandvik, Manroc, Science North, Toromont, Pukaskwa National Park and the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development Mines and Forestry all provided exhibits and information.  More than 300 students and teachers attended a day dedicated to secondary schools and more than 300 also attended a day for elementary schools.  Eleven schools participated in the program.

At a public open house, more than 1,800 people attended a community event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of gold production at Hemlo.  Along with local officials, Mike Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development Mines and Forestry, spoke at the event.  Chris Woodall, General Manager at Barrick – Hemlo Mines, and Roger Souckey, Organizational Development Coordinator, and the team at the Williams and David Bell Mines did a superb job organizing this celebration not just for employees, or Marathon, or Northwestern Ontario, but for all Ontario.

“It was a remarkable week and it was great to see all the people support our 25 years of operation at Hemlo,” said Mr. Souckey.  “Students had an excellent couple of days learning about mining and the benefits a mine brings.”

This province is blessed with long term orebodies which bring wealth creation and social and regional development which benefit all Ontarians.  For example, the Golden Giant Mine, which operated for 21 years in the Hemlo gold camp created revenues of $3.2 billion, paid corporate taxes of $660 million, paid local taxes of $24 million and paid wages and benefits to employees of $440 million over the course of its operating years.
In a typical year of operation, Golden Giant had about 250 employees and supported a payroll of $20 million ($770,000 every two weeks) and paid local suppliers $5 million.  That mine has moved on to the closure and rehabilitation stage.

However, after 25 years of production, Barrick – Hemlo Mines and the Williams and David Bell Mines are continuing to create their own stories and make contributions to the society and economy of Ontario.  The Williams and David Bell Mines currently have a total of 650 employees.  May the Hemlo gold camp have many more birthdays to celebrate!

Quick Ontario Gold Facts

The price of gold today (August 16, 2010) is $1,223.24 (US) per ounce.

One year ago, the price was about $950 (US) per ounce and five years ago, it was about $430 per ounce.

in 2009, miners in Ontario produced 1,679,000 ounces of gold valued at $1.8 billion.