For nearly a century – 90 years in December, to be precise – Hudbay Minerals has been the cornerstone and lifeblood of the northern Manitoba community of Flin Flon. But change is coming to this quintessential one-industry, resource-based Canadian town. In 2020, Hudbay is scheduled to close the 777 mine – its only remaining mining operation in the immediate vicinity of Flin Flon.
Meantime, the company is continuing to develop and expand its base and precious metal Lalor mine, which began producing in late 2014 and is located in Snow Lake, 215 km east of Flin Flon. “We have undertaken a program of re-evaluating exploration opportunities with the Flin Flon area,” says Cashel Meagher, Hudbay’s senior vice-president and chief operating officer. “The obvious future in northern Manitoba will divert from Flin Flon to Lalor. We want to perpetuate the life of the Lalor mine.”
In fact, the potential at Lalor has continued to increase since Hudbay launched an aggressive exploration program in 2007. The company drilled 180 holes from surface and identified a sizeable deposit of ore-grade material – zinc on top, copper beneath it and a halo of contact gold beneath the copper.
Hudbay then built a 3-km-long ramp from the bottom of its Chisel North mine to the Lalor deposit and launched an underground exploration program from a depth of 1,025 metres below surface. That led to the discovery of a non-contact gold zone large enough to support a small mine in itself. It also allowed the company to increase the estimated size of the deposit to 20 million tonnes of resources, inclusive of reserves.
Lalor currently has proven and probable reserves of 14.2 million tonnes grading 5.12% zinc, 0.69% copper, 2.61 g/t gold and 26.5 g/t silver. “This is biggest deposit in the Snow Lake area and probably the second or third biggest in the Flin Flon camp itself,” Meagher says.
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