The former townsite of Pine Point in July 2021. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
Owners of the Pine Point project say they hope to resume mining zinc and lead at the former mine site within six years.
Andrew Williams, environmental manager for Pine Point Mining Ltd, gave an update on the proposed mining project to Hay River council on Monday night.
Williams’ company, also known as PPML, is a joint venture between Osisko Metals and Appian Natural Resources Fund III. Appian is a private equity group.
Williams told councillors a developer’s assessment report, which details how the mine will be developed, operated and closed, is expected to be finalized and submitted to the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board by April 2025. He said that’s needed to start the environmental assessment process, a key stage in approving new mines in the NWT.
According to Williams, PPML expects to have the necessary approvals and financing in place to begin construction in 2028, with the mine entering operation in 2029.
The mine’s life is currently estimated at 12 years. Williams said that means active closure is expected to begin in 2040 and take two to four years. Following that, he said, the closed site would be monitored for at least 10 years.
Williams said PPML proposes to open 47 new pits and one to five underground mines at the site, grouped in clusters.
Options for the site of a new mill and the best location for waste rock are being reviewed, he said. Tailings will either be placed in existing pits or potentially in an above-ground tailings facility.
Pine Point, located between Hay River and Fort Resolution, was once home to nearly 2,000 people before it was abandoned in the late 1980s when the local mine shut down. An open-pit lead and zinc mine operated from 1965 to 1987.
As when that former mine was run by Cominco, Williams said the new mine’s mineral concentrate will be trucked to Hay River then taken by rail to a smelting facility in the south – or potentially overseas. He said those agreements have yet to be negotiated.
In a preliminary economic assessment released in July 2022, Osisko Metals said the mine could produce 329 million pounds of zinc and 141 million pounds of lead annually. It estimated the mine had a net value of $602 million and could lead to $5.6 billion in gross revenue after royalties.
In a May newsletter this year, PPML said it plans to begin a feasibility study this year. Once that is complete, the company hopes to seek financing for the project, currently estimated at $650 million.
Williams told councillors the company wants to hire locally as much as possible. He said that will require looking at training programs to prepare people for employment as well as things like housing and transportation.
“At this stage, it’s very early in the game,” he said.