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Job losses offset by gains in mining; economic upturn "long overdue".

Job losses in the Timmins region within the forestry sector have been offset by job creation in other natural resource sectors, with mining and exploration providing the main impetus for job creation.

Carrie Vescio, Northern Ontario area economist with Human Resource Development Canada, says there was no change in overall employment numbers for 2002-2003 for the northeastern Ontario region surrounding Timmins.

That was the result of a drop in employment numbers in some areas like the goods-producing sector, offset by gains in service. Job losses in the forestry sector resulting from the Canada/U.S. softwood lumber dispute were offset by an eight-per-cent increase, or 1,100 jobs, in the rest of the remaining natural resources sector including fishing, mining, oil and gas sector, she says.

"We think where that is coming is increased exploration and activity in the mining sector," says Vescio. "There's been a lot of attention with the price of gold being so high. We're thinking some of that (increase in jobs) has to be coming from mining because it certainly isn't coming from forestry."

Recent announcements in the mining sector validate HRDC observations.

St. Andrew Goldfields Ltd. announced recently that Dumas Contracting Ltd. of Timmins has been awarded a $9.7-million contract as part of the Clavos Advanced Exploration project of St. Andrew's Stock Gold Complex near Timmins.

The Clavos Advanced Exploration Project consists of a decline ramp, an exploration development program and an underground drill program to explore the Clavos deposit. This program will test the continuity of the Clavos mineralization, provide metallurgical samples for testing and provide underground access for further drilling and evaluation.

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Dumas Contracting Ltd. is a well-known and established mining contractor operating from Timmins. Dumas completed a number of incline and vertical shaft development projects over the last 10 years, and has been engaged in mining contracts for Falconbridge, Inco, Placer Dome and Kinross mines in the Timmins and Northern Ontario area and for others internationally.

Mark Dumas, president of Dumas Mining Contracting, says the company plans to hire about 20 people at the start of the project, but that number could swell between 40 and 100 people.

"We have been waiting for the last seven years for things to start moving," he says. "I thought it would happen last year. Some people are still asleep at the wheel. The money's there, but the companies are not reacting as quickly as I would have thought.

"I think 2004 and 2005 are going to be good years and it is long overdue," says Dumas.

With final hurdles passed in the development of Falconbridge's Montcalm project, Falconbridge has started "full mobilization" on Montcalm, says project manager Kevin Brown.

Located 70 kilometres northwest of Timmins, Montcalm is a five-million-tonne nickel deposit Falconbridge has been working on to develop into a mine.

The company estimates that capital expenditures by Falconbridge toward the project will be approximately $100 million. Full production at the mine is expected by February 2005 and likely will create 145 jobs.

"We started work at the site at the end of November," says Brown. "We have contractors mobilized at the mine site and at the Kidd Creek metallurgical site. These are the two major areas of work on the project.

"Trucks will start rolling pretty soon. The ore (from the initial digging of the mine) will be processed at other Falconbridge facilities until we get the fourth circuit set up at the Kidd metallurgical site ready to process," he says.

The Porcupine Joint Venture's (PJV) first project, the Pamour open pit project, was just completing its feasibility in January with hopes of going into the construction stage in the first quarter of 2004.

The PJV, east of the city of Timmins, is a joint development project that, in July of 2002, combined assets of mining giants Placer Dome Ltd. and Kinross Gold Corp.

General manager Gary Halverson says there are several key elements, including stripping waste overburden or rock off the site to get to the ore and the development of a 13-kilometre connector haul road from the Dome mine to Pamour.

Also in the works is a six-kilometre rerouting of Highway 101 east of Timmins around Three Nations Lake and the replacement of about 25 per cent of the lake that encroaches on the proposed pit.

"We anticipate we will be getting ore from Pamour by 2005, which coincides with completion of the Dome pit," he says. "The current plan is to be mining for the next 10 years with that pit."

Dan Katic, production manager and co-owner of Norfab Metal and Machine in South Porcupine, says activity in the mining sector has undoubtedly resulted in an increase in activity on their shop floor.

"Everything looks optimistic, that's for sure," says Katic. "Over last year, we've had a 20 per cent increase (in business). Last year was quite slow because of the price of gold, but the last few months have really picked up quite nicely. We have all kinds of orders in place to carry us through until at least April.

"I don't see a slowing-down happening any time soon," he says.

www.falconbridge.com

www.placerdome.com

www.kinross.com

www.standrewgoldfields.com

www.on.hrdc-drhc.gc.ca

By ANDREW WAREING

Northern Ontario Business
COPYRIGHT 2004 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
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Title Annotation:Timmins Report; Dumas Contracting Ltd.
Author:Wareing, Andrew
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Feb 1, 2004
Words:877
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