Northwest Mining: Mine builder aims to start construction of Marathon palladium mine in early 2023

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Generation Mining executive says ‘tough’ environmental questioning will improve mine project

Construction of an open pit palladium and copper mine project near Marathon appears to be a year away from groundbreaking.

Drew Anwyll, Generation Mining’s chief operating officer, provided an update on the May 20 web call as the Toronto-based company navigates its way through a federal and provincial environmental assessment (EA) on its project, at 10 kilometers north of the town of Marathon and not far from the north shore of Lake Superior.

Anwyll clarified the timelines for the environmental assessment process as the public hearing portion recently concluded. The company is in the process of going through the preparatory stages to put in place the financing of the project and the administrative formalities in order to obtain the permits.

Final approval for the mining project must come from federal and provincial environment ministers before construction can begin. If all goes well, construction will begin in early 2023 with commercial production 20 to 24 months later.

The development promises to create over 1,000 construction jobs and 400 permanent mining jobs over a projected lifespan of 13 years. Annual production will be 245,000 ounces of palladium.

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The environmental assessment committee hearings, which began in mid-March, involved the company explaining the key element of the project by responding to questions and concerns, and hearing support from area communities, residents and indigenous peoples, environmental groups and government agencies.

Anwyll mentioned that the company answered its fair share of “tough questions” when explaining its plans submitted in its environmental impact statement filed in early 2021.

“But the tough questions we get from the panel allow us to make this a better project and make sure all those concerns are addressed,” he said.

The federal-provincial commission for the Marathon project was established in 2011 when it belonged to Stillwater Canada. The process was put on hold in 2014 when the company put the project on hold. The EA was revived when Gen Mining acquired the project in 2019 and took steps to bring it into production.

With the public hearing portion now complete, the three-member independent panel has 90 days to draft its report and make recommendations to the respective federal and provincial environment ministers for consideration.

Anwyll said approval for the mine project could come as early as late October or mid-December at the latest. Then the company would rush through a two- to three-month period to obtain and update the necessary permits to prepare for construction.

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Key permits yet to be acquired include the Provincial Mine Closure Plan and other permits related to tree removal and species at risk for caribou habitat on the North Shore of the Superior.

The Company’s mining project and exploration lands cover 220 square kilometers and are located within the traditional territory of Biigtigong Nishnaabeg (Pic River).

Gen Mining has signed an agreement in principle with the community, which sets out the framework for the future community benefits agreement, and a memorandum of understanding, which outlines how the relationship will work with certain contract work reserved for local companies.

Anwyll describes the company’s relationship with Biigtigong Nishnaabeg as “strong”, adding that they have had many “solid discussions” with management. The community, he said, has a strong and balanced approach to environmental protectionism and the realization of development benefits.

The cost of constructing the open pit mine is $665 million. With inflation driving up the cost of mine construction projects near Dubreuilville and Gogama, Anwyll said they are currently assessing these impacts in their detailed engineering for the mine and its infrastructure.

“The world is certainly going through crazy times and we have yet to assess what the total impact on the project will be.”

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