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Rich Hemlo gold field still churning it out.

Rich Hemlo gold field still churning it out

There are just three gold-producing mines in the Schreiber-Hemlo District, but what is lacking in quantity is more than made up for in quality.

In 1989 1.2 million ounces of gold were produced by the David Bell, Golden Giant and Williams mines, all of the Hemlo Gold Camp.

The figure represents about half of Ontario's total gold output and about one-quarter of Canada's output.

"Basically, all mines continue to increase their production rates," said Mark Smyk, staff geologist with the Schreiber-Hemlo resident geologist's office of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.

The district includes the communities of Schreiber, Terrace Bay, Rossport, Marathon, Manitouwadge and Heron Bay.

Last year was the first time that the combined production of the three mines topped one million ounces, but this year it will likely be closer to 1.5 million ounces, Smyk predicted.

"There doesn't seem to be any end in sight," he said, adding that all the mines have a life expectancy of about 16 to 17 years.

The David Bell Mine is one of Canada's highest-grade producing mines.

Mine manager Ruston Ford said the grade is .762 ounces per metric ton of ore.

The underground operation is expected to produce more than 300,000 ounces of gold this year, matching last year's 312,190 ounces.

Ford noted that 1,300 metric tons of ore pass through the mill every day, 365 days a year.

The operation, which began in May of 1985, currently has 215 employees.

Ford said the mine has a life expectancy of more than 15 years with its current ore reserves.

"We're continually looking," he said. "Essentially, our reserves stand at greater than start-up."

The Williams Mine was Canada's top producer in 1989.

In the first three months of 1990 it produced more than 151,000 ounces of gold at an ore grade of about .25 ounces per ton.

Mine manager Peter Rowlandson said currently there are proven and probable reserves for between 15 and 20 years.

"But there's still exploration to be done," he said, adding that it is expected that reserves will increase.

Rowlandson expects a good year in 1990. "The operation has been running very smoothly."

The Williams Mine currently has a workforce of 600.

In August of 1989 the Supreme Court of Canada awarded the Williams Mine (formerly the Page-Williams Mine), which was developed by Lac Minerals Ltd., to Corona Corporation.

The decision ended an eight-year legal battle over ownership.

Under a prior agreement, Corona Corporation and Teck Corporation became equal partners in the mine, which is run by the Williams Operating Corporation.

According to Frank Grebenc, mine manager of Hemlo Gold Mines Inc., the Golden Giant Mine is producing an average of 2,800 tons of ore per day grading at 12.5 grams per ton.

"We'll stay at that level for the foreseeable future," he predicted.

The Golden Giant Mine opened in 1985 and has been at full production since last fall.

Grebenc said the company "expects to achieve record levels of gold production" this year. It's forecasting 1990 production at 420,000 ounces of gold.

Reserves at the site are expected to last 16 years and Hemlo Gold Mines has undertaken a $3-million exploration program which will take up to three years to complete. The mine employs 305 people.

Minnova Inc.'s Winston Lake division mine completed its first full year of operation in 1989.

The mine produces copper, zinc, silver and .04 ounces of gold per ton.

Exploration for gold was still predominant in 1989, but activity declined compared to 1988.

Gold accounted for 45 per cent of last year's exploration programs in the district, compared to 75 per cent a few years ago.

"Base metals have really come up in the last few years," Smyk said.

Exploration activity for gold declined in the Hemlo area, with 12 active programs in 1989, compared to 20 the year before.

According to the resident geologist's report for 1989, gold will likely continue to dominate exploration in the future, due to the spectacular production and potential of the Hemlo camp.

Like other parts of the province, the district has also been hit by the cancellation of the federal government's flow-through shares incentive program.

Since then, junior mining companies have had trouble raising money, said Smyk.

However, he noted that as the juniors dropped out of sight, the majors have moved in to take up the slack.

The new provincial Ontario Prospectors Assistance Program has proven popular. Between 30 and 40 grants have been approved for the district.

The following are highlights of gold exploration as outlined in the resident geologist's report for 1989.

- Hemlo Gold Mines Inc. had four active properties in 1989, including the International Interlake Industries Inc. property. The property comprises 31 contiguous claims, located immediately northwest of the Williams property.

- Hemlo Gold Mines Inc. shifted considerable exploration activity to the Mishibishu-Wawa area.

- Lac Minerals Ltd. continued exploration on its White River prospect in Bomby, Brothers and Laberge townships.

- Bond Gold Canada Inc. conducted a diamond drilling program on its Hemlo west property.

PHOTO : The Williams Mine in Hemlo is Canada's top gold producer. In the first three months of 1990 it produced more than 151,000 ounces.
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Title Annotation:Gold Mining Report; Schreiber-Hemlo District gold mines, Ontario
Author:Bickford, Paul
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Jul 1, 1990
Previous Article:St. Andrew Goldfields prospers by running counter to industry's trend.
Next Article:Slump in exploration activity in Sioux Lookout.

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