Barrick Gold’s flagship Hemlo operation near Marathon could operate for nearly another 10 years if ongoing exploration and analysis at the site bears fruit, the company says. “If the study results are positive, the life of the mine could be extended to 2026, pending a positive investment decision,” Barrick spokesman Andy Lloyd said in an email on Friday.
News of the studies confirm what many locals have believed for the past year or so – that Hemlo still has a lot of life left if the price of gold remains above US $1,000 per ounce.
Hemlo, which consists of open-pit and underground operations at the 30-year-old Williams mine, is slated to run at least until 2021. Though the news sounds good, Lloyd said Barrick can’t yet say for sure that Hemlo will operate until 2026. “It’s important to stress that we are in the study phase, and we need to await the outcome of that work before we can make decisions on future development,” he said.
A study on the open pit is to be completed at the end of this year, with an analysis of the underground to be done by early 2018. Financial details were not released. Barrick launched the studies following “access to an increased land package and encouraging exploration drilling results.”
Hemlo remains a large workforce, with 500 direct employees and 200 contractors working at the Highway 17 site about 40 kilometres east of town. Marathon Mayor Rick Dumas said the proposed mine-life extension “is all good news for our community.”
“I personally feel there is a lot more ore out there, and they will be mining for many years to come.”
Lloyd said Hemlo “continues to demonstrate good geological potential. At the end of 2016, we added approximately one million ounces of gold to our reserves there.” “The mine’s current reserve is now 1.6 million ounces of gold and we believe there is good potential to add additional reserves in the future,” Lloyd added.
Former Hemlo long-time site manager Andy Baumen has been transferred to Barrick’s Toronto head office.
Some believe the next Hemlo manager will be a female executive from one of Barrick’s other operations. If that happens, it would be the first woman to oversee the Hemlo site. Lloyd said he couldn’t confirm Friday who the next manager will be.
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