Skip to content

Future uncertain at Snow Lake mine

The Reminder is making its archives back to 2003 available on our website. Please note that, due to technical limitations, archive articles are presented without the usual formatting.

The Reminder is making its archives back to 2003 available on our website. Please note that, due to technical limitations, archive articles are presented without the usual formatting.

The future of the New Britannia Mine, by far Snow Lake's largest employer, is uncertain and some residents are fearing the worst. Media reports this week stated that the closure of the gold mine is definite, but the official word from the parent companies is not so conclusive. High River Gold Mines Ltd. and Kinross Gold Corporation have issued a press release indicating that the Snow Lake operation will be shut down if efforts to extend its life prove unsuccessful. According to the release, an increase in mine operating costs has prompted a reevaluation of the mine, which employs some 190 workers in the community of about 1,200 residents. The release said that there is a commitment to extend operations as long as economics permit, and that the mine is expected to continue to operate until at least the end of 2004. "Regional exploration activities are ongoing and a number of priority targets have been defined for future drilling that, with success, could have a positive impact on the mine over the longer term," read the company's statement. "Should efforts at extending the mine life prove unsuccessful, both companies are committed to an orderly shutdown of operations." Some Snow Lake residents are wondering what will become of their community if that happens. "We're thinking we would be left with 600 or 700 people," estimated Tony Brew, who grew up in the northern town and owns a popular local lodge. While sympathetic to the workers who would lose their jobs, Brew feels they wouldn't have trouble finding work at mines in other communities. His real concerns relate to the drastic population drop that would result. "Growing up here, you hate to see the town die," said Brew. See 'Tense' P.# Con't from P.# The owner of the Wekusko Falls Lodge doesn't think a closure would hurt his bottom line, but he would be worried for other business owners. "The ripple effect would be big time with a lot of businesses in town," he said. Mayor Garry Zamzow described the mood in Snow Lake as tense. "It goes without saying that when there's uncertainty around any individual's livelihood, that uncertainty promotes some anxiety," he said. "People are talking with each other and they're not sure what their plans are going to be or which way they are going to go." The New Brittania mine is not affiliated with HBMS, which operates a zinc and copper mine in Snow Lake that reportedly employs about 50 people.