Hammerdown project would be located at former Richmont Mines site
Mayors on the Baie Verte Peninsula expect the proposed revival of a nearby gold mine could shine brightly on their rural-Newfoundland economy.
Last week, Maritime Resources Corporation registered a project for environmental assessment to develop a gold mine near the communities of King's Point and Springdale. According to a registration document filed with the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment, the mine could have a life of six years and create upwards of 150 direct jobs when operating at peak capacity. The initial estimated capital investment for the Hammerdown gold mine would be $57 million.
This is all music to the ears of King's Point Mayor Perry Gillingham. His town of approximately 650 residents is five kilometres from the site of the proposed mine.
"It would be good for us and the overall area of Green Bay," said Gillingham, whose council has met with the company. He understands the mine would provide well-paying jobs.
"It would be a tremendous spinoff for the local businesses in place," said Springdale Mayor Dave Edison. With a population of almost 3,000, Springdale is the region's largest community, and Edison said it already has a number of supply businesses that can work with the mining industry.
The site in question has a history when it comes to gold mining. Richmont Mines operated the mine as a small open pit and underground operation from 2000 to 2004. Ore from the mine was processed at the Nugget Pond processing plant, located 140 kilometres away from the site near the resettled community of Snook's Arm. Richmont Mines ceased operations in 2004 and decommissioned the site a year later due to a low price for gold.
The commodity's price in Canada has shown strength in recent months, at times exceeding $2,400 per ounce. According to a SaltWire Network article published last month on Anaconda Mining's drilling plans for eastern Nova Scotia, this sort of price level has not been witnessed since the early 1970s, making it a highly profitable time to mine gold.
Gillingham and Edison both acknowledge the fact activity at the mine in the early millennium benefited their respective towns quite a bit. Both communities also have many residents currently employed in the industry who travel for work.
"There's a lot of miners here that travel to Labrador, Alberta and Nunavut — wherever there's mines to," Gillingham said, adding there are likely miners nearing retirement who would love to finish their careers working close to home.
Springdale has potential housing subdivisions on the horizon and Edison expects the mine, if it proceeds, would help fill some of these homes.
"It's easy for (council) to support this," he said. "We've spoken to the CEO of this company, and they're a reputable company."
Although he recognizes the short-term value of the mine, Gillingham knows the project will help his town in the long run. Over the last 10 years, King's Point has placed more emphasis on attracting tourists to the region, highlighting the natural beauty of Green Bay.
"That's something that can continue on a yearly basis," he said. "The mine is good. Don't get me wrong. It will be a big boon for the area ... But when that's gone, hopefully tourists will still be here."
The project was registered for environmental assessment July 8. The deadline for public comments is Aug. 12, with a decision due from the minister Aug. 22. According to Gillingham, drilling at the site is ongoing and it's hoped work to develop the mine could begin in 2021.