A Canadian company based on the West Coast hopes to strike it rich at a gold mining project in rural Nova Scotia.
Atlantic Gold Corp. of Vancouver is in the midst of creating a 30-hectare open pit mine and the infrastructure to run it in Moose River Gold Mines, a community about 24 kilometres southeast of Middle Musquodoboit.
The company has already hired 140 employees as part of its Touquoy Gold Project — one of four developments planned for the area.
"The date for putting the first ore into the plant is Sept. 4 and the process is relatively fast," said John Thomas, vice-president of projects for Atlantic Gold. "We should have gold to ship about 10 days after that date."
The company began accessing a $115-million credit line last month. Workers are going seven days a week building the open pit, a mill site and a massive tailings management facility where a large dam is being constructed.
Three years ago, Atlantic Gold won a dispute with a family in the Moose River Gold Mines area that didn't want to sell its land to make way for the project. The province eventually sided with the company and expropriated the land.
Company plans big expansion
Atlantic Gold plans to have four mining operations in the area over the next decade employing 350 workers.
Once the Touquoy project is opened, Atlantic Gold will start Phase 2 of its operation at Beaver Dam near Sheet Harbour. The two projects are expected to yield 720,000 ounces of gold.
Gold bars will be produced on site and banks have already been lined up for purchases. The price of gold has dropped slightly since the U.S. election and is now trading at more than $1,200 an ounce.
Hunting for more gold
Two other sites in the same region are also part of the overall plan. Projects at Cochrane Hill and Fifteen Mile Stream have already had test drilling done and core samples taken from those sites are being analyzed.
Results of those tests are expected next summer and the company said it hopes estimates from the two sites will push the total from all four projects to 1.2 million ounces of gold, which could translate into more than $1 billion if today's prices hold steady.
"To date it's the most aggressive exploration we've ever done," said Tim Bourque, senior project geologist with the company.
Economic activity in the area already appears to be having a positive impact on businesses in the area. Reid's Restaurant and Bakery in nearby Middle Musquodoboit said it has seen a steady stream of patrons.
"It's kept us busy and steady instead of us having a slow phase," said Lorraine Decker, a waitress at Reid's. "It's nice knowing this mine is coming here to help build up our community."