Local company hoping to dredge barite from Buchans tailings ponds
There is activity at an old mining operation in central Newfoundland for the first time in years, as a local company plans on giving it new life.
Barite Mud Services has reopened the Buchans mill to dredge up old tailings ponds for barite.
"It's been three years of planning and assessing, both the opportunity and the markets, and a range of factors. So we're delighted it's all finally coming into place for us here," said president Mike Rose.
Thirty per cent of the tailings ponds in Buchans are barite, a mineral used in drilling.
Other companies have dredged up some of it before, but there is still 600,000 tonnes of it left — enough to mine for the next 15 years.
"Demand is great. Even in our own offshore oil and gas industry, I think we're seeing more activity. In deeper water, the deeper the drilling, and the more the need for barite," Rose told CBC.
The company's chief operating officer and third generation Buccaneer Mike O'Brien said the project will help the rural economy.
"The fact that we can supply to the offshore, it helps Newfoundland beyond the Avalon, beyond St. John's, and it helps us build our rural roots a little stronger, a little better," said O'Brien.
There are 16 people employed on the site until the end of October. However, Barite Mud Services hopes to double the number of employees when the seasonal operation starts up again next May.
"In my lifetime, Buchans [has] been a shrinking community, but I want to see it grow, in the way of attracting very skilled people, very strong, very smart, and very hardworking people. And at one time, that's all that was drawn here — and that's how I want to see it again," O'Brien said.
The province needs to give final approval on the mining permit before any workers can touch the tailings ponds.
The company hopes to have that in place in the coming weeks to be able to start operations in the spring of 2015.