A new gold mine in the area will mean new training opportunities for post-secondary schools, new jobs, and new opportunities for contractors.
IAMGOLD's Côté Gold Project, which is a joint venture with Sumitomo Metal Mining, announced it received approvals to start construction at its Gogama site last month.
This week, IAMGOLD president and CEO Gord Stothart was the featured speaker for the Timins Chamber's State of Mining, which was held virtually.
The open-pit mine will be serviced by a fleet of autonomous haul trucks and drills.
“Autonomous technology makes for more predictable operations and this technology is already widely deployed around the world even though it may be a bit new to Ontario," said Stothart.
Some of the benefits he highlighted include higher productivity, better costs, and a more rationalized camp size.
"Using automation we effectively have seasoned, high-performing operators on day one without a need for training and with increased productivity and availability. The mines that are running this technology today have continued to expand their implementations at a rapid pace and some are even embarking on retrofitting conventional trucks with autonomous equipment, which is a more complex transition to make versus our planned deployment straight out of the blocks,” he said.
Educational relationships, said Stothart, are very important because of the unique requirements for the autonomous operation. He said Northern College and other schools have already reached out.
“The move to autonomous requires an additional skillset beyond what you might traditionally have at a lot of gold mines or mines. And certainly a lot more technical capacity will be required," he said.
IAMGOLD has an ongoing relationship with the mine engineering department at Laurentian University, and has collaborated with Cambrian College.
Stothart said they also donated $150,000 to the Duke of Edinburgh International Award Program to extend its training in the Gogama region, with a focus on helping Indigenous communities and youth in the region.
During the construction period from 2020 to 2023, more than 1,300 jobs are anticipated. When the mine is operating, it will mean about 450 full-time jobs.
The current potential for the mine is 18 years.
The local project office is based in Sudbury.
“Our goal is to locally-source as many of these employees as possible. There will be bus in, bus out to site from depots in Timmins and Sudbury. We are still working on what our rotations will look like for the long term, but at this stage we know that they will probably be 50/50,” said Stothart.
This fall, he said an operational leadership team will be hired. They will work with human resources to hire the department workforces.
"We’ll start hiring for mining and operations roles late in 2021, for plant roles starting in the spring of 2022 and for general administration roles in the summer of 2022,” he said.
During the construction process, Stothart said IAMGOLD will not be publicly communicating business opportunities.
Instead, Wood, a company offering engineering, procurement and construction management services, will invite pre-qualified contractors to bid for work.
“Wood reaches out to contractors in the area that they consider would be viable bidders for a job,” he said.
Contractors will be asked to complete a pre-qualification process. Successful applicants will be sent expression of interest letters if there's a contract to bid on. Stothart said pre-qualificaitions are done on a per contract basis.
“There will be an emphasis on finding local contractors to work on this project as we have done wherever we operate mines around the world,” he said.
He said they'll be leveraging a combination of known local suppliers, regional, national and worldwide markets.
“During the selection process special emphasis will be placed on identifying bidders with local infrastructure and support capabilities for construction and operations. Consideration will also be given to potential regional and national bidders who can partner with local companies to encourage longterm local business development opportunities,” he said.
Stothart said Wood has been inundated with pre-qualification requests, are working on the backlog and will get back to everyone.