Miner Detour Gold is a major player in the foodservice and hotel business

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.

One of the largest hotel and food service operations in Ontario right now is not a resort, or hotel, or casino, it is the Detour Lake mine site located 185 kilometres north and east of Cochrane.   Detour Gold is investing $1.3 billion to bring this open-pit gold project into production by early 2013.  Once in operation, it will be Canada’s largest gold mine.

Access to the mine site from Cochrane is by a provincial two-lane highway and a private company road.  The road trip from Cochrane takes about two and one half hours and crosses several major rivers flowing into the Arctic watershed.  The mine is near the Quebec border and about 100 kilometres south of James Bay.

On any given day at the moment, there could be 1,000 people, or more, on site from Detour Gold and at least 15 contracting companies.  It is a beehive of activity requiring military precision and logistics to feed and house the workers let alone bring in materials to build the mine infrastructure including the processing plant facilities and tailings areas. 

“Construction of the mining facilities started in November 2010 and will provide significant employment for the local and surrounding communities.  Having the benefits of a long mine life, the Detour Lake mine will make a positive contribution to the economy of Northern Ontario,” said Gerald Panneton, President and Chief Executive Officer for Detour Gold.  “At a conservative US$850 ounce gold price, which was used in the feasibility study, the economic impact for Ontario over the life of the mine is projected to be in excess of $12 billion.”

It takes 80 people to take care of the feeding and housing of workers at the Detour Lake site.  There is a team of 40 people involved in the kitchen for cooking and food preparation, 30 in housekeeping and 10 in the office and administration areas.  About 3,000 meals a day, which include between 3,000 and 4,000 sandwiches, are produced on site every day to help fuel the workers. 

“My top priority is always the comfort of the people on the site,” said Rachel Pineault, Detour Gold’s Director of Human Resources and Aboriginal Affairs.  “For workers to do their jobs in a safe and productive manner, we need to ensure they have comfortable accommodations and recreational facilities along with a wide selection of great food.”

The workers on site are housed in trailers.  The hotel-like rooms are all single accommodation with a bed, desk, television and wireless internet connections.  The trailers themselves, while slightly used, provide first-rate facilities equal to, or better than, many traditional hotel/motel set ups.  The housing trailers when new were used by the security staff of heads of state who visited Huntsville and Toronto for the international G 8 and G 20 conferences last year.    

Construction activity is going on 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Workers put in 12 hour shifts during their time at the camp.  With the number of construction cranes on site, you could be mistaken thinking you were in the midst of a condominium development in downtown Toronto. 

The mine development site is in many ways its own city.  A fully serviced fire truck is on location as is an ambulance staffed by physician’s assistants.  The camp can accommodate up to 1,200 people.  A security team monitors traffic and through the use of electronic passes keeps track of how many people are on site at any specific time.  Security efforts are aided by Melinda, a Shepherd adopted by the Detour Gold exploration group.  This trained guard dog patrols the perimeter of the camp to keep away bears, wolves and foxes from the property, something residents of Toronto condominium developments are unlikely to need to worry about.

When in full operation, the mine is expected to have more than 500 full time employees.  The operation anticipates processing 60,000 tonnes of ore per day for an annual output of about 650,000 ounces of gold.  The mine has projected life of 21 years as a result of ongoing exploration programs that have expanded Detour Lake’s mineral reserve to 14.9 million ounces, using a conservative gold price of US$850 per ounce. 

This is a world-class project due to its large scale.  The size of the open pit will be 3.3 kilometres long by 1.2 kilometres wide and reaching a depth of 700 metres.   “In order to gauge the magnitude of just the processing plant at Detour Lake, when it is completed, the Skydome (apologies to the current owners of the Rogers Centre) in Toronto would fit inside it,” said Greg Miazga, Director of Construction and Engineering for Detour Gold. 

While doing size comparisons, a quick check of some web sites reveals that the number of rooms at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto is just over 1,000, at Caesar’s Casino in Windsor 758, at Casino Rama 300 and at the Muskoka Sands Taboo Golf Resort 151.

Mr. Panneton is the founder of Detour Gold, which purchased the property for $75 million in late 2006.  With its headquarters in Toronto, Detour Gold became a public company in January 2007.  Detour Gold has signed business agreements with local Aboriginal communities including the Wahgoshig First Nation, Taykwa Tagamou Nation and Moose Cree First Nation.  For further information on the company check out