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Millertown looking forward to new mining opportunities

Valentine Lake, approximately 80 kilometres from Milliertown, has a discovery of more than four million ounces of gold. According to Marathon Gold president and CEO Phillip Walford, a mine comes with a 12 year life expectancy.
Valentine Lake, approximately 80 kilometres from Milliertown, has a discovery of more than four million ounces of gold. According to Marathon Gold president and CEO Phillip Walford, a mine comes with a 12 year life expectancy. - Contributed

A golden opportunity

MILLERTOWN, N.L. —

There’s a series of highs and lows that comes with life in a mining town.

The people of Millertown, in central Newfoundland, know this all too well. 

Millertown Mayor Fiona Humber is hopeful progress towards a gold mine in central Newfoundland will again bring prosperity to the central Newfoundland community. - Contributed
Millertown Mayor Fiona Humber is hopeful progress towards a gold mine in central Newfoundland will again bring prosperity to the central Newfoundland community. - Contributed

Producing copper and zinc, Teck Resources Duck Pond mine operated in the area from 2007 to 2015. It employed more than 300 people.

Mayor Fiona Humber said when Duck Pond was in operation it brought vibrancy to the town. There was local employment, new homes were being purchased, the town’s four businesses were thriving and the company was investing in town infrastructure.

But as resources diminished, operations ceased.

While life in the little town of just over 80 continued on, supported by the logging and miners taking shiftwork elsewhere, the absence of the mine was clearly felt.

“When the mine was in operation, there was growth, there were new properties being built, now there’s a decline,” Humber said. “It got hard at times, but this is an amazing little town and people have a way of coming together.”

And in withering the downturn, new hope is again on the horizon.

Marathon Gold has established itself at Valentine Lake, down a dirt road some 80 kilometres from Millertown.

According to president and CEO Phillip Walford, more than four million ounces of gold has been discovered within its more than 240 square kilometres area.

Extracting 225,000 ounces annually, which will be processed into impure gold bricks on site, the mine has a 12 year life expectancy through open pit mining. Walford said the potential for underground mining could expand the mine’s life.

There’s already a 50-person camp established at the site for its exploration team, but a ramp up to full production would create 450 jobs.

Marathon Gold is currently going through its preliminary feasibility study. The timeline for production is set at 2021-2022.

It’s something that could pay off in a big way for the Newfoundland and Labrador’s economy, said Walford.

“Our policy has always been to use local labour, the people on the island, and the goods and services on the island, and we’ll continue to do so,” he said. “All of our campsite, which is just exploration people, they all live in Newfoundland.”

The company is also in the process of building relationships with area communities. It has held community engagement sessions in Millertown, Buchans and Grand Falls-Windsor.

“That’s only the start, there will be more meetings as the project proceeds, we’ll try to keep everybody up to speed,” he said.

Humber is hoping Millertown can build upon its relationship with the mining company as well.

“It’s great for the region, hopefully, the jobs that will come from this will get people who worked at Duck Pond back to the area,” she said. “It gets businesses in the town busy, and big mining companies have often been supportive of nearby town’s. Duck Pond was a big reason for us getting our new park, and we are hoping to be able to expand upon that with Marathon.

She added, “We are such a small town we can’t really be doing things like this, so we look forward to working with them in the future.”

Russell Squires, owner of the Lakeview Inn in Millertown, sees the opportunities as well.

He purchased the bed and breakfast last year and he’s noticed a mining clientele presence at his establishment.

“We’ll definitely get some business from the Marathon Gold operation, which is good… so yeah I’m looking forward to it, and it’s one of the reasons I picked up this bed and breakfast,” he said.

Beyond himself, Squires sees it as a chance to build upon Millertown and southern central’s service sector, as hundreds of jobs means people travelling through the area.

“I see it as an opportunity for small business to come into the area,” he said. “Not specifically for mining, a small business can support mining … it also becomes about looking at what to do after the mine is done.”

Central potential

Marathon Gold started working on the project in 2010. Walford was involved with Anaconda Gold, on the Baie Verte Peninsula, prior to that.

He sees tremendous opportunities in central Newfoundland’s resources.

“Central Newfoundland is the greenstone belt, it’s good for all sorts of minerals,” he said. “We’re looking at gold, copper, silver, lead, zinc. There’s lots of minerals to be found.”

According to the Department of Natural Resources, there are currently six properties in the central region with exploration activity of various lengths and intensity.

“The opportunity for mineral exploration and development in our province is great; the provincial government is tapping into that potential to further the mining industry throughout Newfoundland and Labrador,” read a statement from the department. “In 2019, the mining sector is forecasted to employ 5,100 people directly in operations, as well as an additional 1,200 in mining construction, bringing the total employment forecast for 2019 to 6,300 – an 11 per cent increase from 2018.”

The gross value of mineral shipments in Newfoundland and Labrador is forecasted at $4 billion for 2019, a 47 per cent increase from recent lows in 2016.

adam.randell@thecentralvoice.ca


Exploration activity in the central region

Marathon Gold Corp. - Valentine Lake Property

 - Approximately 20km vein hosted gold trend 70 kms Southwest of Millertown

- Most advanced mineral exploration project in N.L.

- Applications for 100s of drill holes and 10s of trenches each year

- Very aggressive exploration intensity last 10 years

Sokoman Iron Corp. - Moosehead Property

- Approximately one km vein hosted gold trend three kms southeast of Bishop’s Falls

- Mid-tier mineral exploration project

- On and off light trenching and drilling over past 30 years

- Increase in exploration intensity in the past five years

White Metal Resources Corp. - Little Joanna Property

- Approximately two-metre long vein hosted gold trend 23 kms north of Glenwood

- Early stage mineral exploration showing (Prospecting)

- Some grab samples taken from surface rock last year

Antler Gold Corp. – Wilding Lake Property

- Approximately three-km vein hosted gold trend 42 kms south of Millertown

- Mid-teir mineral exploration project

- Applications for 10s of drill holes and 10s of trenches each year

- Initially discovered 2015 with increasing exploration intensity since

NorZinc Ltd. (formerly Canadian Zinc Corp.) – South Tally Pond Property

- Approximately one-km base metal and gold trend 30 kms south of Millertown

- Mid-tier mineral exploration project

- On and off light drilling over past 20 years

- Applications for 10s of drill holes each year

NorZinc Ltd. (formerly Canadian Zinc Corp.) – Tulks South Property

- Approximately two-km base metal and gold trend 75 kms southwest of Millertown

- Mid-tier mineral exploration project

- On and off moderate drilling over past 30 years

- Applications for 10s of drill holes each year

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