After 18 years, Hudbay has confirmed that production at 777 mine is officially over.
In a statement issued by the company June 22, the company confirmed that active production at the mine has concluded and that operations there would now fully transition to closing down. The shutdown means that, for the first time since the 1930s, Flin Flon will have no active mines operating close to the community.
"Hudbay today announced that mining activities at the company’s 777 mine in Flin Flon, Manitoba, have concluded after the reserves were depleted following 18 years of steady production," reads the statement.
"Closure activities at the 777 mine have commenced and employees and equipment are transitioning to the company’s operations in Snow Lake, Manitoba."
Workers pulled off the final blast underground at the mine June 12, while the final ore hoist from underground came up June 17. The Flin Flon mill was processing the final ore pulled from the mine earlier this week.
“Stope production ended on Thursday, June 16 and final production skipped to surface was on Friday, June 17. This included cleaning out of the underground ore storage bins,” said a Hudbay spokesperson in a statement released to The Reminder June 20.
777 mine is expected to be fully closed by this fall, along with the company's Flin Flon zinc plant and powerhouse facilities. Those facilities are slated to start a phased-out closure later this month that will continue on throughout the summer.
The mill will be placed on “care and maintenance”, the company says, with current projections seeing that take place by the end of August.
Some areas of the company’s operations - its administrative offices and its mechanical shop, for instance - are likely to stay open past this summer, although for how long they'll stay in operation is unclear.
Operations in Flin Flon were originally supposed to close by the end of May, but work was extended for several weeks due to what Hudbay spokespeople described in April as “higher levels of concentrate than had been forecasted, enough to merit extending operations for a few weeks.”
"The company’s hydrometallurgical zinc facility in Flin Flon will also be closed after more than 25 years of successful operations. The 777 mine and the zinc plant are scheduled to be safely decommissioned by September 2022," reads Hudbay's June 22 statement.
"The Flin Flon concentrator and tailings impoundment area will be shifted to care and maintenance, which could provide optionality should another mineral discovery occur in the Flin Flon area. Hudbay strives to achieve the highest closure practices and has considered stringent and detailed environmental plans to manage water and the remaining infrastructure and processing plants in Flin Flon."
As Hudbay plans to move most of its Manitoba resources into the Snow Lake area, much of the company’s Flin Flon-area operations are either closing or being dramatically scaled back. Workers and equipment from Flin Flon are already being moved or transferred to work in Hudbay's Snow Lake operations, which include the Lalor mine, the recently reopened New Britannia gold mill and the Stall concentrator.
After years of pre-production, 777 mine officially started production in 2004, with a 10-year mine life expected - that was extended another eight years through expansions in operations and mine reserves. The mine has been on a ticking clock for years, with the company warning that its time of operation was slowly winding down. Exploration around the Flin Flon area has not revealed - at least, not to the public at large - any other large-scale mineable deposits around the area.
"After extensive drilling in and around the mine in recent years, no new deposits were identified and the 777 mine hoisted its last skip of ore late last week," reads the Hudbay statement.
Hudbay president and CEO Peter Kukielski said in the statement that the company plans to continue exploration in the area.
"“777 was a state-of-the-art mine that represented the pinnacle of a century of shared success for Hudbay and Flin Flon,” said Kukielski.
“Though the closure of 777 marks the end of a mining era in Flin Flon, we will continue with exploration activities in the region. We care deeply about the community and creating a bright future for mining in northern Manitoba. Hudbay’s transition to Snow Lake will help deliver that future and demonstrate our commitment to being a valued member of our communities.”
"Hudbay would like to thank the many Flin Flon employees that made 777 a modern, safe and successful mine," reads the company statement, accessible on Hudbay's website, along with a four-minute-long tribute video to workers at the mine.