[Marathon’s palladium] Mine on track for 2016 start – by Carl Clutchey (Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal – October 22, 2012)

The Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.

The new Stillwater Mining Company executive spearheading the company’s proposed copper and palladium mine on Marathon’s outskirts says the project remains “fully funded” and on track to meet the previously announced production start-up date of 2016.

Stillwater Canada president Terry Ackerman, who is based in the company’s head office in Billings, Mont., was in Thunder Bay and Marathon last week to attend three open houses about the Marathon project.

Ackerman said the company hopes to have completed an ongoing environmental review into the project and obtain necessary operating permits by 2014. Construction at the proposed mine site just north of Marathon’s airport is expected to take two years and require 400 construction workers.

About 360 full-time miners are to be required once mining operations are underway. Ackerman, who was previously Stillwater’s vice-president of corporate development, replaces former Marathon project general manager Stan Emms. Ackerman said Emms has moved on to other projects.

“My job is get the mine into production, but eventually we want to have a local (management) workforce,” said Ackerman, who has been with Stillwater for 20 years.

Earlier this month, a consultant retained by the Town of Marathon suggested that Stillwater should look at alternatives for the mine’s non-hazardous waste because the town’s landfill is near capacity.

The current mine plan would have Stillwater using the town’s downtown site on Penn Lake Road.

Ackerman said he planned to hold discussions with town officials regarding the landfill. It’s not “unheard of,” said Ackerman, for mine sites to have their own landfills, although no decisions have been made about the Stillwater project.
As early as the end of January, up to 30 days of public hearings into the mine project are to start, overseen by an independent review panel appointed by the provincial and federal governments.

The three-member panel of two scientists and an engineer are to submit a report advising the governments on the potential environmental impacts of Stillwater’s open-pit mine, projected to operate for nearly 12 years.

To accommodate construction workers, the company has acquired three Marathon motels on Highway 17 and on Peninsula Road.
The company has contemplated building an elaborate bunkhouse at the site of a former Marathon elementary school, but Ackerman said he has yet to determine if that facility will be needed.

“It depends on our housing needs,” he said.

The estimated cost of building the mine remains in the $550- $650-million range. In March this year, Japan-based multinational Mitsubishi announced it was investing US$94.6 million into the Marathon mine project and taking a 25-per-cent stake.