2020 Vision for the [Timmins] Kidd Mine – by David Hicks (The Global Commodities Report – October, 2011)

Published by New Vanguard Media, The Global Commodities Report is a digital magazine about the benefits of resource business.

For a mining town like Timmins Ontario, Xstrata Copper Canada’s announcement that it is extending the mine life of the world-class Kidd Mine is welcome news.

For the second time in the past three years, Xstrata Copper Canada has announced that it is extending the projected mine life of the Kidd Mine. This time to 2020. The previous such announcement in 2008 bumped the closure back to 2017.

Quoted in Timmins’  The Daily Press, the mine’s General Manager, Tom Semadeni said, “We’re seeking to lengthen the life of the mine and the concentrator to 2020. Last year, our (expected) life was 2017, we now think 2018, and we’re working towards 2020.”

The Kidd Creek Mine, as it was first known, was discovered in 1964 and opened in 1966. It was one of the largest and richest volcanic massive sulfide discoveries in the world, bearing copper, zinc, indium, cadmium, silver and sulfuric acid. The mine produces 3.4 million tonnes of ore per year, and rendered 52,000 tonnes of copper and 45,000 tonnes of zinc in 2010.

Xstrata bought the Kidd operation from Falconbridge in 2006. In 2008, Xstrata decided to take the mine from 9,100 ft. in depth to 9,500 ft. at a cost of $148million. This made Kidd the deepest base metal mine in the world and, due to the curvature of the Earth in Canadian north, the closest to the center of the Earth. Deepening the mine over the last decade has cost $800million. The Kidd mine and concentrator employ 1,400 and this latest mine extension is expected to add about 60 jobs.

In May of this year, however, Xstrata closed the Kidd smelting plant, taking 670 jobs with it. The concentrate is now shipped into Quebec to Xstrata’s Hoyle plant – now the only copper smelter operating in Canada. The Province of Ontario is launching a $225,000 feasibility study looking for future uses for the Kidd smelter facility.

All of these changes impact Timmins, a city of 43,000. “Xstrata is a significant employer and between their investment and how that money circulates within Timmins, the economic benefits are significant,” says Robert Calhoun, the Project Manager of ‘Discover Abitibi’, a pilot geosciences project administered by the Timmins Economic Development Corporation, coordinating geoscience surveys and research in northeastern Ontario. “The mine extension also gives the city more time to look at ways of diversifying the local economy.

“Fortunately, there are also several other very large developments in the surrounding territory for which Timmins will be a regional service centre,” he says. “There’s the billion-dollar Detour Lake mine to the north of us; Lakeshore Gold is redeveloping their mine and mill on the east side of the city, and developing the new Timmins West mine on the other side; Goldcorp is extending the nearby Hoyle Pond mine; Northgate Minerals is redeveloping the Matachewan gold mine … there is a lot going on here.

“The bottom line here is that there are three spin-off jobs for every mining job created.”