On Tuesday night, Jeff Hussey, Osisko Metals’ president and chief operating officer, told Hay River’s town council a recent preliminary economic analysis (PEA) found the Pine Point mine project “has technical and financial merit.”
Osisko and Pine Point Mining Limited (PPML) will now be submitting a confirmation and exploration permit to continue collecting samples, as well as a mining and milling permit.
“Now we’re into the second half of the game and this is where it can get exciting. We do have to get the money pulled together – we’re working hard at that – but I think the future is bright for Pine Point,” Hussey said.
“With the PEA now in hand, we can describe the project a little clearer. It’s bigger than what you’ve heard of in the past.”
Hussey said collaboration agreements that were signed last summer allowed them to increase their land package and access a larger resource base.
The next phase of the project is working on an environmental assessment, which will be completed between 2020 to 2023.
Mine slated to open in 2024
If all goes as planned, a 16 to 18-month construction period will take place in late 2023 to 2024, with the zinc mine opening for operation at the end of 2024.
“We do see a zinc price hike in 2024, 2025,” Hussey noted. “The world is talking economic development. As soon as those projects come to fruition they require zinc, all of the rebar in cement requires zinc.”
The preliminary assessment estimates the mine will last ten years and employ 456 people during production – a rough estimate suggests 145 of which could be local hires – and an average of 280 employees during construction.
The active closure phase of the mine is projected to last from 2035 until 2037, followed by ten years of closure monitoring.
As much as possible, Osisko and PPML plan to build on previously developed areas rather than disturbing untouched areas, which would require more extensive remediation after closure. For example, they plan to use several existing pits to store tailings and waste rock.
Creating library of core data
Work at the mine site has been “on care and maintenance” since it was shut down by Covid-19 in early spring, but work started to pick up again in July.
Hussey said the main activity right now is recataloguing thousands of old drill cores.
“We’re turning the core graveyard into a library of usable data,” he said, adding they are also planning to start up one drill in late August to collect more samples.
Hay River Mayor Kandis Jameson said, “It’s nice to see that this hasn’t gone by the wayside, this project, and that it’s still going ahead.”
Jameson said town council would respond to Hussey’s request for a letter of support for the confirmation and exploration program, and the environmental assessment submissions, by the end of next week. Council did not discuss the letters of support in the public portion of the meeting on August 11.