For most of 2015, things were not looking good for North American Palladium (NAP). On April 16 its stock price cratered so low the New York Stock Exchange suspended trading of the company’s shares. In August the company went through a financial restructuring that saw Brookfield Asset Management become a 92 per cent owner and by September NAP had to axe its workforce by 13 per cent, to 422 employees.
Fast forward to 2018. The company’s Lac des Iles mine, 90 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay, Ontario, now has 613 employees – a 45 per cent increase over 2015. Those workers have steered a generational turnaround for NAP that has set successive underground production records and returned the company to profitability.
Lac des Iles first began operation as an open pit mine in 1993, producing just over 3,000 tonnes per day of ore from the Roby zone. With the commissioning of a new mill late in 2002, the production rate increased to 15,000 tonnes per day.
The mine began producing underground in 2006, using an access ramp from the open pit. Together, Lac des Iles and the Stillwater operation in Montana are the only two primary producers of palladium – a metal primarily used in the catalytic converters of automobiles – in the world.
After the financial crisis of 2008 and the resulting fall of metal prices, the mine went into care and maintenance. Work restarted at the mine in 2010, including an underground expansion project with shaft sinking to begin mining the newly discovered Offset zone below the Roby zone.
For the rest of this article: http://magazine.cim.org/en/projects/lac-des-iles-en/