Back to the drawing board: Rubicon outlines its Red Lake exploration program – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – January 10, 2017)

New management at Rubicon Minerals promise a more thorough, responsible and transparent approach toward getting its shuttered Phoenix Gold Project back on track. The would-be Red Lake miner provided the details on its exploration plans over the next two years on Jan. 10.

“We have finalized the details of our 18- to 24-month exploration program that will advance our understanding of the F2 Gold Deposit at the Phoenix Gold Project,” said Rubicon president-CEO George Ogilvie in a news release.

Coming out of creditor protection and refinancing, Rubicon is out to restore investor confidence and attempt to shake off its reputation as one of Northern Ontario’s biggest mining blunders.

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Restructuring the shaft of shame: Rubicon Minerals aims to start anew in 2017 – by Staff (Northern Ontario Business – December 20, 2016)

An Ontario court has approved a restructuring plan to revive a shuttered gold mine development in northwestern Ontario.

Rubicon Minerals was granted a sanction order from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Dec. 8, to approve the Toronto-based mine developer’s refinancing and restructuring plan for its Phoenix Gold project near Red Lake. The company sought protection from its creditors on Oct. 20. Ernst & Young was appointed as the monitor.

A majority of the affected creditors had earlier voted to approve the plan on Dec. 2. Rubicon announced Dec. 20 that the restructuring process was complete and that the company has been notified by the TSX that its common shares will remain listed on the TSX under the symbol RMX. Rubicon shares will resume trading on Dec. 22.

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Abandoned mine tailings threaten Pickle Lake development – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – May 27, 2016)

Pickle Lake Mayor Karl Hopf said his northwestern community is being “handcuffed” by a one-size-fits-all provincial policy that’s stonewalling future development. Drafting a new Official Plan for the township of 425 has stirred the pot on a four-decades-old environmental legacy issue that’s resulted in a standoff between the municipality and three provincial ministries.

Red flags have been raised from the presence of arsenic in old surface tailings from a mine that closed in the 1950s. It’s caused the province to curb any new development along a highway corridor that the municipality wants to set aside for business opportunities.

The township is now at loggerheads with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in refusing to sign off on a new Official Plan until the province finally commits to remediating the site. “For 40 years, they keep saying it’s a health issue,” said Hopf. “Well, let’s fix it.”

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Rubicon Minerals Corp warns ‘significant doubt’ it can survive after breaching loan – by Peter Koven (Financial Post – March 23, 2016)

TORONTO — Rubicon Minerals Corp. is at risk of collapse after breaching a debt covenant and halting its high-profile Ontario gold project due to technical problems.

The junior miner announced Tuesday that there is “significant doubt” it can continue as a going concern because of its debt, and may have to seek creditor protection.

To stay onside with the terms of its loan facility, Toronto-based Rubicon needed to have its Phoenix mine up and running by now. That has not happened. Rubicon had to halt development work at the Red Lake-based project last year after getting underground and realizing that the geology was far more complex than it initially thought.

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Rubicon Minerals Corp shares plunge as miner slashes its gold resources by 88% – by Peter Koven (National Post – January 12, 2016)

Junior miner Rubicon Minerals Corp. has slashed its gold resources by an astounding 88 per cent, confirming the company will go down as one of the worst Canadian mining meltdowns in years.

The stock plunged 64 per cent on Monday, closing at 5 cents, as this news crushed any remaining investor confidence in the formerly high-flying company. Rubicon has hired financial advisors to try to salvage value for shareholders, but there is little confidence that they will succeed.

“We’re very disappointed, as management and the board, at what’s transpired,” interim chief executive Michael Winship said on a conference call.

Toronto-based Rubicon was one of the hottest junior mining stories of the past decade, but the company made fatal errors while developing its Phoenix gold project in Ontario’s Red Lake camp.

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What went wrong at Rubicon Minerals, one of the biggest junior mining meltdowns in years – by Peter Koven (National Post – December 1, 2015)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Even before its meltdown, investors watching Rubicon Minerals Corp. could see some troubling warning signs.

Everything seemed fine on the surface. The company said in April that it was on track for first gold production at its Phoenix project in Northern Ontario in mid-2015. And in June, it did indeed pour its first gold.

Yet at the same time, Toronto-based Rubicon was saying very little in what should be a busy period. Its second quarter financials, which were filed to SEDAR in August with a press release, showed the company spent tens of millions more than expected in the quarter, leading some analysts to wonder what was going on. Sources said they had trouble getting detailed answers from the company.

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AUDIO: Mine closure in Red Lake, Ont., surprises mining economist (CBC News Thunder Bay – Novemeber 5, 2015)

New strategy required for gold extraction, Lakehead postdoctural fellow says

The news of a temporary closure at the Rubicon Minerals mine in Red Lake, Ont., came unexpectedly to one mining economist at the Centre for Excellence in Sustainable Mining at Lakehead University.

The shutdown of the mine is leaving 330 workers without a job in the northern Ontario town with 5,000 residents.

In a paper highlighting key mining developments, Karl Skogstad said the Rubicon mine was one of the more promising projects in northern Ontario.

“That came as a bit of a surprise to me,” Skogstad said. “That was one of the two projects that we said, ‘this is going to open, you know, relatively on schedule, and it’s doing well.'”

The volatile price of gold is presenting challenges to companies such as Rubicon, he added.

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NEWS RELEASE: Underground Activities Temporarily Suspended at the Phoenix Gold Project; Rubicon to Enhance Its Geological Model and Develop an Implementation Plan

Rubicon Minerals First Gold Pour: June 2015 from Rubicon Minerals on Vimeo.

TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – Nov. 3, 2015) – Rubicon Minerals Corporation (TSX:RMX)(NYSE MKT:RBY) (“Rubicon” or the “Company”) today announced it is moving to suspend underground activities at the Phoenix Gold Project (the “Project”) while it enhances its geological model of the F2 Gold Deposit and develops a project implementation plan.

“We believe in the potential of the Phoenix Gold Project,” said Michael Winship, interim President and Chief Executive Officer of Rubicon. “We have high-grade gold mineralization with extensive infrastructure, in one of the top producing gold camps in the world. Similar to other high-grade, narrow-vein, underground gold deposits, the geology can be quite challenging and requires additional analysis to be fully understood. During the trial stoping period, we have discovered that the F2 Gold Deposit is much more geologically complex compared to our understanding of it from historical drilling.”

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Rubicon Minerals shares plunge on Phoenix gold project suspension – by Peter Koven (National Post – November 4, 2015)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

The meltdown at Rubicon Minerals Corp. highlights the risk of building a gold mine without getting to know the deposit as well as possible.

The Toronto-based miner’s shares plunged as much as 68 per cent on Tuesday after it halted underground development of the Phoenix gold project. Rubicon said it needs to do further work to understand the deposit in order to mine it most effectively.

“We believe there is considerable room for improvement in the development of the Phoenix gold project,” interim chief executive Michael Winship said on a conference call. He added that it is a complex, narrow-vein deposit that is more difficult to mine than surface drilling suggested. The company is now studying a mix of possible mining methods.

The stock closed down 55 per cent at 26 cents Tuesday. The problem, experts said, is that Rubicon may have identified these problems much sooner if it hadn’t moved so quickly.

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Filmmaker goes home to document Red Lake mining life – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – June 30, 2015)

Established in 1980, Northern Ontario Business provides Canadians and international investors with relevant, current and insightful editorial content and business news information about Ontario’s vibrant and resource-rich North. Ian Ross is the editor of Northern Ontario Business

Abudding Toronto filmmaker has paid an artistic and captivating tribute to his hometown of Red Lake with the release of his first feature-length documentary.

Cliff Caines’ 78-minute film, “A Rock and a Hard Place,” is a nostalgic and critical portrait of a resource-dependent town built upon some of the world’s richest gold deposits.

Under the umbrella of his production company, Headframe Films, the documentary received an honourable mention at the DOXA Documentary Film Festival in Vancouver this past May.

The catalyst for the project was in 2010 when he got wind of rumours that Goldcorp was evaluating the possibility of digging up entire subdivisions of Balmertown, a small community within Red Lake where he grew up, to convert the land into a huge open pit.

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Goldcorp, Wabauskang sign agreement – by Staff (Northern Ontario Business – January 30, 2015)

Established in 1980, Northern Ontario Business provides Canadians and international investors with relevant, current and insightful editorial content and business news information about Ontario’s vibrant and resource-rich North.

Goldcorp and Wabauskang First Nation have signed a collaboration agreement that paves the way for long-term economic benefits for the northwestern Ontario First Nation.

The new agreement, which marks Goldcorp’s sixth First Nation partnership in Canada, provides a framework for strengthened collaboration in the development and operations of Red Lake Gold Mines. A signing ceremony was held Jan. 29 in Wabauskang, located about 100 kilometres south of Red Lake.

Goldcorp now has collaboration agreements in place with all of the First Nations which assert Aboriginal and treaty rights in the vicinity of its active operations in Canada: Red Lake Gold Mines, Musselwhite Mine, Porcupine Gold Mines and Éléonore Mine.

“This new agreement is about so much more than economic benefits,” said Brent Bergeron, Goldcorp’s executive vice-president of corporate affairs and sustainability, in a news release. “It’s about long-term partnership, open dialogue and shared prosperity. It demonstrates our company’s ongoing commitment to develop Northern Ontario’s natural resources in a mutually beneficial and sustainable way, and will bring well-deserved recognition to the people of Wabauskang.”

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Underground entrepreneurs: Red Lake miners now members of small business cells operating with more autonomy – by Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco (CIM Magazine – November 2014)

Last fall Goldcorp’s Red Lake mine was organized conventionally, with teams reporting to supervisors who in turn reported to a general foreman. With a wicket system in place, employees arriving for their shift lined up to receive their assignment from their supervisor for the day, taking them to different parts of the mine. It was a hierarchical approach that managers had determined was less than ideal.

To build the foundation for a more employee-driven organization, Red Lake management chose to reorganize operations into 14 different cells – or business units – each comprising between 10 and 15 members. Each cell is assigned dedicated resources that include equipment, labour and support of organizational structures. And each one handles its own accounting and metrics.

“Essentially, we set up each cell to act as an independent small business,” says Bob MacDonald, operations manager at Red Lake. “Collectively, we get to learn from the best practices of each unit, and independently, each unit is best equipped to deal with its own unique operating conditions. It’s a win-win.”

The planning process for the new organizational structure took three months, carried out by a team made up of a general foreman and a technical services representative as well as Trevor Krawchyk, Goldcorp’s operations excellence manager. They also worked closely with daily supervisor and technical teams to revise and fine-tune every aspect of the plan.

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Red Lake area running out of power to feed mines (CBC News Thunder Bay – April 17, 2014)

Hydro One to consider solutions to allow production to begin at two new mines next year

The Northwest Energy Task Force is keeping a close eye on the power needs of two mines scheduled to open next year at Red Lake. Task force member John Mason said there’s a looming problem for two new mining projects that need a solution.

“Between the Rubicon operation and (Goldcorp’s) Cochenour Bruce Channel, I would estimate over $700 million has been spent, and yet could be hampered with power issues, which would be devastating to these new operations.”

Mason said the mines could be held up unless electricity infrastructure is upgraded. Rubicon’s Phoenix gold project is set to start up next spring, and mine maintenance superintendent Sylvain Talbot agrees there’s a challenge to overcome.

“There is nine megawatts available, and Goldcorp and Rubicon are maybe looking for 20 megawatts. And there is another junior company that’s coming, so Red Lake area is running out of power.” Talbot said he recently asked about options to enable Rubicon to start production at the new mine next spring.

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Top Ten Mining Events in Northern Ontario History – by Stan Sudol (March 22, 2014)

This column was also published on the Huffington Post – the “New York Times” of the web:

Klondike Versus Northern Ontario

For crying out loud, I continue to be astonished with our collective Canadian obsession over the Klondike Gold Rush while northern Ontario’s rich and vibrant mining history is completely ignored by the Toronto media establishment, especially the CBC.

Discovery Channel’s recent six-hour mini-series on the Klondike – vaguely based on Charlotte Gray’s book, “Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich in the Klondike – once again highlighted this glaring snub.

Unfairly, the Klondike did have the benefit of terrific public relations due to famous writers like Jack London, Robert W. Service and Pierre Berton, but I still don’t understand how this brief mining boom continues to dominate the “historical oxygen” in our national psyche.

At its peak, the Klondike only lasted a few years – 1896-1899 – and produced about 12.5 million ounces of gold. And unlike the California gold rush that created one of the largest and richest states in the union, the entire Yukon Territory’s population today is about 36,000. Contrast that with booming Timmins with 45,000 hardy souls who have dug out of the ground about 68 million ounces and counting of the precious metal, since the Porcupine Gold rush of 1909.

It’s enough to make to make Benny Hollinger, Jack Wilson and Sandy MacIntyre – the founders of this extraordinary deposit – spin in their collective graves!

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Red Lake housing shortage vexes officials – CBC News Thunder Bay (October 2, 2013)

The Municipality of Red Lake wants to build more housing so workers at the local mines can live in the community. A housing shortage is one reason that hundreds of contractors commute to their jobs.

Red Lake’s economic development officer said much of the land in the municipality is already staked for mining claims — meaning it can’t be built on. “Well, it might look open to the naked eye but, in truth … we cannot develop up here,” Bill Greenway said.

Mining company Goldcorp is currently building 10 homes, with another 40 planned for a subdivision. But that is just a start on what’s needed, Greenway said The cost of servicing a building lot on bedrock is in the tens of thousands of dollars, he noted.

“Infrastructure costs are probably the biggest detriment to development here, because you’re usually looking at using explosives to actually embed water, sewer lines,” Greenway said. Finding a solution to the housing shortage would make it easier for Ron Parks to attract staff to his Tim Horton’s store.

“The main problem here is they have a hard time finding a place to live,” Parks said.

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