Government supporting company’s continuing work in St. Lawrence
Almost 2 1/2 years since the announcement of a $17-million government loan in support of the project, there has yet to be any construction or renovation work for a new fluorspar mine in St. Lawrence.
© — Telegram file photo
Infrastructure from the old fluorspar mine operation in St. Lawrence. Canada Fluorspar representatives say the company is
continuing to work through the possibility of starting a new fluorspar mining operation in the area.
The project continues to be pressed by Newspar, a partnership of Canada Fluorspar and Arkema Inc.
Former St. Lawrence mayor Wayde Rowsell says taxes collected from the partnership and jobs, as a result of the presence of Canada Fluorspar — for diamond drilling work and evaluation work on a new fluorspar mine — has brought welcome income to the municipality.
The timeline on the mine project, though, with the government’s loan announced in August 2011, has not gone unnoticed.
“It’s not talked about that much here anymore now, because people are going on with their life,” Rowsell said, noting the roll of rumour now and again within the community on when a decision might be made to go ahead with a mine.
“(But) the community supports the project. And I say that sincerely.”
Finalizing the idea
Lindsay Gorrill, president and CEO of Canada Fluorspar, reached by phone Thursday, was asked about the project.
“We have brought on a new project manager and a new project engineer and the partners have agreed to finalizing the scope of the project,” he said.
“What happens then, after the scope of the project is finalized, then you have to go into final engineering.”
He acknowledged the consideration of the project — what it would take to start a fluorspar mine in St. Lawrence area — has been ongoing for some time. Market conditions, and specifically an explosion on the costs associated with an original concept, led to the leadership team reviewing its plans.
Construction was put on hold in spring 2012 for the re-evaluation, following the sticker shock from a cost estimate of $154 million for needed infrastructure, up from $98 million.
While the details have since been considered and boxes checked, there have been plenty of questions about the project, from locals and politicians.
On public funds
Over the life of the project, the province has paid out about $637,000 towards the mine project, although it has not advanced on the timeline first announced.
It was once expected to produce as early as summer 2013.
When asked about the funding from the government, Gorrill said the $17-million commitment was a loan commitment. It was also very specific and, the company would not be able to simply use the money however it likes, he said.
He could not say exactly how much money had flowed to the project from the provincial government to date.
“Whatever that is, we’re going to pay that back if we don’t go forward,” he said.
He emphasized the company’s dedication to continuing its work.
And that work continues to receive support in the political sphere from the government.
“It was delayed a little bit,” said MHA Keith Hutchings, responding to questions in the House of Assembly recently, as point man on the issue.
“The company went back and had to revisit the overall cost structure of the project. That has been done. That has been settled away. This year we are looking forward to moving the project forward,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Innovation, Business and Rural Development (IBRD) — the department tied to the multimillion-dollar government loan — re-iterated the support in an emailed response to questions Thursday.
“We remain committed to supporting this initiative. It will generate construction activity, jobs, strengthen infrastructure and represent a positive boost to the economy,” she stated.
“Officials within IBRD are in regular contact with the company in relation to this project, and we remain committed to providing funding to support the reactivation of the mine.”