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Falconbridge goes deep and comes up big.

Collective sigh of relief as Kidd Mining Division begins $640-million Deep Mine project

Plans to turn the Kidd Creek Mine near Timmins into the deepest base metal mining operation in the world are on schedule and have renewed spirits in the area. The $640-million planned expansion involves sinking a new internal shaft to the 3,100-metre level, that is, 3.1 kilometres below the surface.

The first phase of the project, which is to be completed in six years, is expected to cost more than $510 million, with the balance of the capital expenditure to be spent after 2009.

Production is expected to begin in 2004. The expansion is expected to increase the life of the mine by roughly 20 years.

Dan Gignac, general manager of Falconbridge Ltd.'s Kidd Mining Division, says exploration work on the Deep Mine project began in 1993. As part of the exploration process, Falconbridge conducted a risk analysis aimed at identifying the economic and human concerns associated with mining at extreme depths.

To date, more than $12 million has been spent on the exploration process including more than 250 diamond drillholes totalling 116 kilometres of drill core. The feasibility study was completed in July of this year and Gignac says after surveying technical data, health and safety issues and the financial prospectus, Falconbridge made a "business decision to go deep."

With the ore body now identified and prospective production levels confirmed through internal testing, the expansion is underway.

Steve Flewelling, the newly appointed project manager for the Deep Mine project at Kidd Creek, says the technical challenges of mining at depth are numerous and include increased temperature, ground pressure, rock behavior under heavy pressure and the fiscal challenges that come with managing a capital budget that exceeds $600 million.

Flewelling says to meet the project's technical requirements of mining at depth safely, part of the $640-million investment will include a new ventilation service, re-working existing vents, sinking the new internal shaft, developing access to the top of the internal shaft and creating a refrigeration plant on the surface to pump cooled air underground.

Falconbridge Ltd.'s decision to expand the life of the mine is welcomed economic news for the city of Timmins, Gignac says.

"Timmins is a mining town, and Kidd Creek is its largest single employer. Had we not been successful (in expanding the mine's life) this town would have been in a serious situation ma few years.

"This decision has brought new life into the community."

Christy Marinig, manager of the Timmins Economic Development Corp. (TEDC), says the level of confidence that has been instilled within the local business community as a result of the expansion announcement was much needed.

"It was the status quo for quite some time," Marinig says. "This new development has provided a positive economic influence on our community."

Although the TEDC has not yet completed statistical work surrounding the economic impact of the Deep Mine project, Marinig says she is confident the numbers will back up what she calls the "improved confidence" among Timmins' business interests.

Construction of the Deep Mine project is expected to provide more than 400 part-time contract positions locally. Once the operation is underway, employment levels should return to current levels. Currently the Kidd Creek. Mine Division employs roughly 620.
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Article Details
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Author:WALCHUK, KEVIN
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Nov 1, 2000
Words:548
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