CIM national on the ground

Staff take first-hand look at drilling and digging

By Dinah Zeldin

Marjolaine Dugas (left), Lucie Vincent (right) and other staff enjoy their underground adventure | Peter Braul

This past September, the CIM national office staff were given an opportunity to leave behind the computer stations of our downtown Montreal offices to travel 500 kilometres to northern Quebec ­­­and visit a pair of mine sites: Agnico-Eagle Mines’ Lapa underground operation in Val-d’Or and Osisko’s Canadian Malartic open-pit mine in Malartic.

The trip had been a dream of CIM’s executive director Jean Vavrek for quite some time. However, the logistical challenge of arranging a trip for the entire office staff was no easy task. The trip was also made possible by Agnico-Eagle and Osisko staff, and Air Creebec, which provided transportation, allowing 23 members of CIM’s national staff to get a glimpse of the daily workings of a mine site.

“CIM’s investment was well worth it,” says Vavrek. “Many of the staff had never been at a mine site, and witnessing operations provided them with an enhanced understanding of the community we serve.”

Much like miners on the ground, we began our day early. Staff arrived at Lapa’s modern facility at around 6:30 a.m. to a warm reception from the mine’s chief engineer, Eric Lecomte, and were whisk­­­ed off on a three-hour tour of the company’s high-grade gold mine.

“This visit allowed me to better understand the complexity and scale of the challenges our members have to face,” comments ­Mar­jo­laine Dugas, CIM’s director of membership services.

Lunch was accompanied by an informative presentation from Agnico-Eagle, chronicling Lapa’s development from initial exploration stages undertaken by Breakwater Resources in 1981, to the beginnings of construction in 2004, and finally to commercial production in 2009.

“It was impressive to learn how much time and hard work goes into developing a mine site,” says Lise Bujold, CIM’s director of events. “It reinforced how important the work that we do at the office is. I am glad to provide services to support such a dedicated industry.”

After lunch, staff travelled to the Canadian Malartic mine, Osisko’s flagship property, which is a low-grade, high-volume open pit operation with 10.7 million ounces of proven and probable gold reserves.

There, mine staff detailed how, in order to access the deposit that reaches beneath the town of Malartic, the company fully covered the costs of relocating an entire neighbourhood and built a state-of-the-art elementary school. Residents of the town were in support of the project, and many were hired by Osisko as the project developed.

“Visiting the Malartic mine showed me it is possible to operate a mine next to a small town, and that the two can coexist,” reflects Zoë Koulouris, CIM Magazine’s copy editor and communications coordinator. “This trip provided insight into how mines can help maximize a region’s economic benefits, while ensuring a sustainable environment is maintained for people living in the area.”

“One of the major highlights of the trip was witnessing how passionate the employees were at both mines,” says Laura Foley, membership coordinator. “I felt a real sense of social responsibility and care for the community.”

The field trip may have been the first foray into the field for many CIM staff members, but it will surely leave a lasting impression and enhance the connection we feel to mining on a daily basis – each in our own ways.

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