Exploratory work to start at historic N.W.T. mine
The former Pine Point zinc and lead mine in the Northwest Territories may be brought back to life after Tamerlane Ventures Inc. starts exploratory drilling at the site next month.
The company wants to look for a 50-million-tonne unmined deposit near the former mine site, based on documentation that dates back to when the original Pine Point mine existed.
Tamerlane officials say they already know there is an eight-million-tonne deposit at the site, but they will now spend $300,000 to verify the larger deposit.
"We know as much about it as we can without going underground to mine it," Ross Burns, the Tamerlane president and CEO, told CBC News. "We're very, very far advanced.
"Tamerlane's probably one of the very few companies that has … a reserve that's got all its permits, it's got its feasibility study, it's got great infrastructure, which was left from the previous mining there."
The original Pine Point mine, on the south shore of Great Slave Lake between Hay River and Fort Resolution, N.W.T., was run by Cominco Ltd. from 1964 until 1987, when it closed because of rising costs.
Hay River Mayor Kelly Schofield said that he hopes Tamerlane's efforts to revive Pine Point will eventually create jobs for residents.
"We want Hay River to grow with it, grow with the Tamerlane business," Schofield said.
"We up in the Northwest Territories seem to be a little hesitant to change. We accept it when it comes gradually, not forcefully. So I think that's what we'd like to see out of Tamerlane, is a slow, gradual increase that's going to be here for a long, long time."
Tamerlane is still working on getting the money it needs. Burns said it will cost $140 million to bring the mine back into production.
Burns said the company will be turning to European banks and Chinese investors for the money, with the hopes of securing funds by the end of this year.
"It's been very, very tight out there," he said. "Our share price fell from over two dollars down to four cents, and we've been just sort of gradually working things back up."
Tamerlane's share price slipped by five cents Tuesday to close at 34 cents at the close of trading on the TSX Venture market.
Burns said the mine is estimated to have a nine-year lifespan based on the smaller deposits Tamerlane has confirmed.
But if the exploratory drilling does confirm the existence of the 50-million-tonne deposit, the company could have enough lead and zinc to operate 20 to 25 years, he said.