There could be a new Pine Point mine operating in the N.W.T. in about six years, according to the company behind the project — and many South Slave residents are looking forward to it.
There hasn't been an operational lead and zinc mine at Pine Point in almost four decades when the former mine and neighbouring community closed down and were abandoned.
The site, located between Hay River and Fort Resolution., N.W.T., is currently in the development phase. Last winter, Osisko Metals completed a five-year drilling program on site to determine the mineral resources.
Jeff Hussey, CEO of joint venture company Pine Point Mining Limited, says his company closed a deal last year with Appian Capital Advisory, a private equity firm that has agreed to finance the project until it's "shovel ready".
"Now we have to do feasibility work, we have to do the environmental assessment, community engagement, and continue to work through to get our permits," he said.
Hussey says they are aiming to have that work done by 2028.
"And then there's about 18 months to two years of construction. So we're looking at a startup at around 2030, as we see it today," he said.
Hussey said there is no plan to redevelop a community near the site, but there will be a camp on site for workers.
Hundreds of jobs, company says
During the construction phase, he said they estimate they will have over 500 jobs available and once the mine opens they estimate there will be more than 400 jobs.
"We would like to minimize 'fly in and fly out.' We want to hire as many local people as we can," he said.
Hussey said he believes the mine will have a positive impact on local communities.
"It'll bring employment, It'll bring employment training for the communities. And of course, there'll be impact benefit agreements signed with three local communities," he said.
Aaron Campbell is a small business owner and commercial fisherman from Hay River, and he also works at the Diavik diamond mine, which flies in workers on rotation.
He welcomes the new mine and says it will be good for the local economy and said progress is important in small communities.
"Infrastructure and the roads will get better, because we'll have to work on the roads," he said. "Once the money starts coming in from the mine, and people are paying their taxes, money starts getting distributed all over the N.W.T. It's gonna benefit everybody," Campbell said.
Campbell said he's looking forward to the mine being operational sooner than later, but warns it's already raising concerns among some fishers in the area. The Pine Point site is near the south shore of Great Slave Lake.
As a commercial fisherman, Campbell hopes the mine won't interfere with the fishing industry. He's concerned about any blasting close to shore, and dust sediment.
"We just started getting an abundance of trout and stuff back and the fish population is coming back up," he said.
"If they're crushing rocks and if we have a south wind, that south wind will carry that dust and we'll have sediment at the bottom of the lake," he said.
Campbell says other commercial fishermen are also worried about the potential impact of the mine.
Still, Campbell welcomes a new mine at Pine Point and says that he could eventually work there and be closer to home.
"I'd love to work an hour and a half away from home and then do my fishing on my days off."