Xstrata Zinc Canada

Xstrata Zinc Canada is taking steps to ensure its production operation in Matagami, Quebec, continues well into the future. The company, a division of global mining leader Xstrata Plc, is building a new zinc and copper mine just 13 kilometers away from its existing Perseverance Mine, which will end production in 2013. The new $159 million Bracemac-McLeod mine will utilize a mill and other infrastructure now used by the existing mine, General Manager Stephane Ste-Croix says.

Xstrata conducted a feasibility study in 2009-2010 and received approval in 2010 to build the new mine. “With Perseverance shutting down in 2013, we knew we had to be very aggressive to find a new [zinc] feed,” he adds. “We want a seamless transition between Perseverance and Bracemac mines.”

The Bracemac-McLeod mine will produce an average 80,000 tonnes of zinc and 10,000 tonnes of copper annually for approximately four years. The Perseverance mine produced in the range of 135,000 tonnes of zinc and 9,800 tonnes of copper annually, Ste-Croix says.

The Bracemac-McLeod Mine is located roughly 4 kilometers from Xstrata’s Matagami concentrator, which is now supplied with ore from the Perseverance Mine. Exploration on the Bracemac-McLeod site was done in a joint venture with Vancouver-based Donner Metals Ltd. Xstrata is managing and operating the site, and Donner has the right to a 35 percent share in the venture, both companies say.

Construction Underway
Xstrata last year began digging a 2.3-kilometer-long tunnel to the underground Bracemac-McLeod ore body. The mouth of the tunnel is located in a former open pit mine that was in production during the 1960s. Xstrata needed to pump water that accumulated in the pit over more than 30 years, Ste-Croix says.

Other work underway includes a mobile equipment garage, electrical sub station, ore and waste pad, pumping station and access road. Xstrata is self-performing all construction work on the mine. “We have decided to build the Bracemac-McLeod mine with our own workforce, which is unusual for a mining company,” he adds. “We want to benefit from using a skilled workforce that we know will build the mine to the highest safety standards.”

A Strong Work force
The mine will provide 240 jobs over its four-year life span after it becomes operational in 2013. Most of those jobs will go to local workers. “This project will have a huge positive impact on the local community,” Ste-Croix says.

Like all of Xstrata Zinc Canada’s properties, the Bracemac-McLeod mine will be staffed by a highly trained work force. “One of our major assets is a skilled dedicated work force, and we strive to improve every year in safety, production and cost,” he adds.

All of Xstrata’s mining employees are given extensive training in conjunction with the Quebec Mining Association. In addition, supervisors meet with all employees twice daily to cover safety-related issues. “Everything we do is geared toward safe production,” Ste-Croix says.

The company’s safety result in 2010 has been recognized by the Quebec Mining Association. The F.J. O’Connell trophy recognizes the company’s accident prevention efforts and performance compared to other association members.

Wide Reach of Operations
The Bracemac-McLeod Mine will add to Xstrata Zinc Canada’s existing production operations. The company also owns Brunswick Mine, located outside of Bathurst, New Brunswick. The mine, one of the world’s largest underground zinc mines, has been in operation for more than 40 years.

Xstrata Zinc Canada, headquartered in Toronto, is a division of Xstrata Zinc, one of the world’s largest zinc producers and a business unit of Switzerland-based mining company Xstrata plc.