Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.
Marathon Mayor Rick Dumas says he feels reassured about the prospects for a new copper and palladium mine near town following a face-to-face meeting last week with senior Stillwater Mining Company officials.
Dumas and other municipal officials met in Marathon with Stillwater corporate development vice-president Terry Ackerman and newly appointed Marathon project manager Clark Gilbert.
“From the town’s point of view, the meeting went very well,” Dumas said in an interview. The town had learned about a New York City-based minority shareholder group that vows to take Stillwater in a different direction should shareholders vote in favour of installing a new board of directors in a vote set for May 2.
The Clinton Group says Stillwater should focus on its existing operations in Montana, and that projects like the proposed Marathon mine should be reviewed.
Dumas said he’s confident shareholders will agree that the future of Montana-based Stillwater includes a new Marathon mine.
“Yes, you have to focus on your existing operations, but mines run out of ore and you have to move on to other projects (like Marathon),’’ he said.
The proposed open-pit mine, which is still about four years a way from going into production, is to run for nearly 12 years and provide about 350 permanent jobs a short drive from town.
In a news release Thursday, Stillwater continued its war of words with the Clinton Group.
“The Clinton Group is advocating (stock) price collars and the unnecessary early repayment of debt (as well as) a palladium hedging strategy that proved disadvantageous for the company in the past; it would be imprudent to replicate it and expect a different result,” Stillwater said.
A spokesman for Stillwater has said that the Marathon site remains a “premier” location for platinum group metals like palladium.
The Marathon project was validated last year when multinational automaker Mitsubishi took a 25 per cent stake in the project, the spokesman noted.
However, Stillwater admitted to shareholders in October that the amount of palladium in the Marathon deposit “was overestimated” and warned “the effect is likely to be a deterioration in both project economics and ore reserves.”
In its October update, the company also said there could be “a potential increase in the overall resource tonnage resulting from higher metals prices, better-than-estimated metal recoveries and new drilling.”