Project could create 1,000 jobs

TIMMINS - Things are looking good for Timmins’ new talc and magnesium mine, which could create more than a thousand jobs.

William Quesnel, president and CEO of General Magnesium Corp., told The Daily Press the demand for magnesium has doubled over the past few years. Magnesium is a light weight metal and highly sought after in the auto industry. Quesnel said the auto industry is pulling out all the stops to continue to make vehicles like SUVs with the lighter material, which is good news for the company.

“The project is really moving ahead,” he said. “Things take time to do. The thing is, people who are looking at the project to purchase our material have gone above and beyond on their due diligence. Their consultants say we will be a very low cost producer in the world. When you have low costs like that you are able to create jobs that are sustainable because you can deal with the fluctuation in metal prices.

“We have three phases we’re looking at and the jobs could be over a 1,000, which I think is a fairly strong impact for Timmins.”

The Daily Press learned from a source close to the project that the lifespan of the mine could be a hundred years.

The three phases will be broken up into building a talc plant, followed by a magnesium concentrator and finally a magnesium thermal reduction plant. Quesnel said that will be the real job creator because it turns the magnesite material into a metal.

He said there’s talks of companies coming to the area to manufacture the metal.

“Being Northerners, we are trying to follow the government initiative planned for Timmins,” he said. “Mayor Tom Laughren has been super supportive and the new mayor Steve Black has already been out to the site to see the surface miner.”

Mining has already started and the company has collected more than 40,000 tons of surface core material. To keep costs down, General Magnesium brought in a German surface miner to eliminate the need to do blasting, drilling and crushing. Quesnel said they have received a lot of interest because they are cutting the rock instead of drilling and blasting.

He said they will be processing the material off site and plan to increase production in 2015 when they will start construction of their own plant, which will take about three years.

He hinted that they will be making a significant announcement in the near future but wouldn’t provide any other details other than “everyone will be surprised.”

He said they have entered into discussions and agreements with Northern Sun to toll process the already stockpiled material. Quesnel said by partnering with Northern Sun, they can generate cash flow and create jobs while construction is underway for the new plant.

General Magnesium has also assembled a team consisting of Gorf Contracting and Manufacturing, J.L. Richards and Associates Limited, Exact Contracting and Blue Heron Environmental.

Quesnel said all of the companies and organizations have offices in Timmins and added that if there’s a need for specialized resources that the members of the team will go out and get them, not General Magnesium.

He said Gorf will be awarded all of their manufacturing and construction for their plant as well as a contract to operate the plant. J.L. Richards will act as the engineering firm while Blue Heron will handle the environmental side of things and Exact will handle the mining, he said.

He explained that General Magnesium will be a quality control company.

He also mentioned that they plan to build an office at Gorf, which is expected to be opened on Jan. 1.

Quesnel also voiced his disappointment with Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle, Timmins – James Bay New Democrat MP Charlie Angus and MPP Gilles Bisson for not attending their open house, although he added that they have given support for the project.