Booms and busts are the norm when it comes to towns built on the mining industry, but the future could see the creation of communities specifically designed to last as long as the mine and for the economic benefits to be spread among many towns. Financial Post reporter Sunny Freeman and videographer Tyler Anderson traveled to one such mine ramping up in northern Quebec and another in Timmins, Ont., which is agonizing over the closing of its increasingly old-fashioned mines
Coverall-clad miners sip coffees and clutch metal lunch boxes as they listen for the shaft operator’s familiar tap-tap-tap signalling the elevator is on its way for the start of another subterranean shift at Goldcorp Inc.’s Dome mine in Timmins, Ont.
They wait for the muddy night-shift workers to step out of the cage before turning on their headlamps, a common courtesy so as not to blind their weary colleagues, before descending a kilometre underground. It’s a daily routine that has been performed for more than a century at Canada’s oldest operating gold mine.
The Dome mine was incorporated in 1910, when northeastern Ontario’s gold rush brought eager prospectors, families and a sense of community to what was then considered the remote north. It is a working relic, an homage to a long history of towns built on the bedrock of mining, when rich, multi-generational projects breathed life into local economies.
But as the last few of Canada’s earliest mines reach the end of their lives and technological advancements enable sites in previously untouched areas, the company’s role in community development is becoming both more self-contained and more diversified, so that no one town in the future ends up on life support when a mine reaches the end of its life.
Goldcorp is working on shuttering its aging Timmins properties, which will be economically painful for the city, while also ramping up production at the new state-of-the art Éléonore gold mine in a once inaccessible area of northern Quebec: a glimmering model for the future in one of Canada’s oldest industries.
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