PREPARING FOR THE BOOM

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Snow Lake takes steps to prepare and maximize the economic fortunes coming.
By MaryAnn Mihychuk M Sc., P Geo., Economic Development Officer, Town of Snow Lake

Snow Lake is at a key point in its history. The development of the Lalor mine, the re-opening of the Snow Lake mine, the eminent production at the Reed mine, and the construction of the world’s  first bioleach remediation facility provide a powerful framework for growth.  Each of these mineral development projects will bring significant revenues and jobs into the community and will increase Snow Lake’s capacity to address residential, commercial, industrial, and infrastructure needs which will be required as the town anticipates population growth to 2,100 by 2014.

The town is actively engaged in building on the economic opportunity and has developed an economic strategy complementary to maximize benefits from the mining developments. Snow Lake has adopted three major economic “new north” development initiatives aimed at strengthening its role and resources to be a leading Manitoba community:

Core Services Hub – market Snow Lake as a Mineral Supply & Service Centre
Centre of Expertise – develop  a Mining Remediation Research Centre in Snow Lake
Growth & Development – focus on Snow Lake as a centre for Business Recruitment.

It is anticipated that with the expansion of economic activity, direct jobs in Snow Lake will increase from its current level of approximately 274 mineral-related jobs with an increase of 260 per cent to a level of 736 mineral-related jobs by 2015. These mineral-related jobs will bring growth in secondary services and support jobs and opportunities tripling the population.

13 - Image 15As Snow Lake grows to become a pivotal resource centre in Manitoba, akin, but admittedly smaller, to Fort McMurray in Alberta; the opportunities to explore and mine the Snow Lake Greenstone Belt will prove attractive to investors, businesses, and human capital across Canada.  Over the next three years, the Snow Lake Greenstone Belt is poised to become the home of one of Canada’s most successful mining ventures. This exciting new potential and diversified Economic Development Plan addresses what the future will look like and recommends how Snow Lake can build towards a successful rolled-out expansion that increases jobs, strengthens economic growth and builds a positive platform for ongoing community development and sustainability.

At the present time, Snow Lake has four major mineral projects in different phases of development, in addition to approximately 37 exploration companies operating in the area. Currently, HudBay is developing the Lalor Mine & Concentrator and the Reed Mine, QMX (formerly Alexis Minerals) has owns the Snow Lake Mine, and BacTech Environmental Corporation is has planning a Bioleach Remediation plant  construction.

Lalor Concentrator and Mine
The discovery of the Lalor zinc, copper and gold deposit in 2007 by HudBay, recognized as the PDAC Discovery of the Year,  has ignited a rebirth of the town of Snow Lake with a declared capital investment by HudBay of $704 million dollars with a declared mine life of 20 years.  With the completion of the production ramp from the Chisel mine to the Lalor mine, the opportunities for mine resource development  mineral-related employment growth, and the expansion of Snow Lake are dependent on building a close partnership between industry and the community. To date, HudBay employs 102 persons at the Chisel Mine and the Snow Lake Concentrator, with employment projected to grow to 300 positions by the second quarter of 2015.

Reed Mine
HudBay is exploring the deposits at the Reed Mine in partnership with VMS Ventures Inc.  This mine is a high-grade copper deposit and initial product is anticipated by late 2013.  The mine has a five-year life and is located halfway between Snow Lake and FlinFlon.

Snow Lake Mine
QMX Gold Corporation (formerly Alexis Minerals) is present-day owner of the Snow Lake mine, as well as an ore-processing mill located in the community. Alexis Minerals indicates it will invest $45 million dollars to reactivate the mine. At present, this mine already has 15 employees and has a projected staff complement of 260 with 100 staff on site on a rotational basis housed in a mining camp by 2014.

13 - Image 5BacTech Environmental Corporation
BacTech Manitoba (wholly owned by BacTech Environmental Corporation) is in the process of investing $21 million dollars in the development of the world’s first bioleach remediation facility  in Snow Lake. The company has committed to supporting a Centre of Excellence in Bioleach in Manitoba based on its technology used in Snow Lake.  The company will use a patented BACOX bioleaching technology to mitigate acid mine drainage in arsenic-laden mine tailings, while also being able to collect residual gold deposits for the mineral market. The BacTech plant will employ approximately 30 people when the plant is completed in late 2013 and the company is actively searching to extend the life of the plant by sourcing additional tailings for processing.

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