Letter to the Editor: time to get serious after mine shutdown

Dear Editor,

Since Hudbay announced the probable closing of the zinc plant in 2021, I’ve heard vague solutions given, such as we have to diversify our economy or become a service centre or increase tourism, but there are no concrete proposals on how to accomplish these things.

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What I’m wondering is, are we giving up too easily on the mining industry that has supported this town for the past 91 years?

To date, the response from the Manitoba government has been totally inadequate. Blaine Pedersen, minister of growth, enterprise and trade, is quoted by CBC as saying, “It’s business as usual from now till 2021, and we’ll continue to dialogue with the community as they get closer to there. Perhaps Hudbay will have more prospects, mine potential, by then.” This isn’t a strategy to help Flin Flon; it’s just wishful thinking.

We’ve seen Alberta forcefully lobby Ottawa for a pipeline, Quebec lobby for Bombardier and Ontario lobby for the automobile industry. Is there some reason the Manitoba government shouldn’t do the same to save Flin Flon’s zinc plant?

This zinc plant is the newest in Canada and is a state of the art processing facility. When it was built in 1993, the technical journal JOM said it was the first commercial application of standalone zinc pressure leaching and as such represented a significant advancement of the technology. It is especially advanced in meeting the environmental challenges facing zinc plants today.

There is a zinc plant in Quebec that is owned by the Noranda Income Fund and it processes zinc concentrate from all over the world. Would it be possible to use this business model to keep our facility operating? Would another company be interested in operating the zinc plant? I think these are questions worth exploring. The City of Flin Flon should facilitate a meeting between all levels of government, the unions and Hudbay to explore all possible options available to keep the zinc plant operating.

Skip Martin

Flin Flon, MB

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