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By Virginia Heffernan

Once a job creator on steroids, the Alberta oil sands sector is stagnating under a combination of lower commodity prices, a reduced appetite for megaprojects and the increasing viability of renewable energy sources.

Rising oil prices may spur rehiring, but some of the 2,400 direct jobs lost in the sector since 2014 are not coming back. If you have experience in the oil sands or other mining operations and want to apply your skills elsewhere, here’s a list of hard rock mines expected to open over the next couple of years. Keep in mind that most will be obliged to hire at least some of their workforce locally.

Rainy River, Ontario (Au)

The Rainy River gold mine in northwestern Ontario is under construction and expected to achieve commercial production on November 1. At full production, the mine will employ about 600 people.

New Gold plans to commission the processing facilities in stages starting with the primary crusher in March and the entire process facility in August. The mine is on track to produce 50,000-60,000 ounces gold in 2017 and 325,000 ounces gold per year for the next 20 years.

Hope Bay, Nunavut (Au)

Hope Bay poured its first gold in February and expects to achieve commercial production at the Doris North underground mine by the end of March. Owner TMAC Resources is planning two additional mines on the property by 2022. Between now and then, the company expects to hire about 350 employees annually.

TMAC is aiming to produce 160,000 oz. gold per year for 20 years from Hope Bay. Employees currently work on a 3 week on/3 week off rotation. Onsite facilities include single occupancy rooms, an Inuit cultural centre, a lounge with pool and ping pong tables and a gym.

Brucejack, BC (Au)

Construction is nearing completion at the Brucejack gold mine in northern BC including a 330-person camp with offices, recreation facilities and a dining hall. FIFO employees currently work on a 2 week on/2 week off rotation with paid travel days.

Owner Pretivm expects the mine to reach commercial production later this year and produce 7.3 million ounces over a mine life of 18 years.

Meliadine, Nunavut (Au)

Agnico Eagle just announced it will build a second gold mine in Nunavut at Meliadine, near Rankin Inlet, to complement its Meadowbank mine further north. The underground mine is expected to open in 2019, a year earlier than expected, and operate for 14 years. Current reserves contain about 3.4 million ounces of gold.

The mine will need to hire about 1,000 employees. Agnico’s Meadowbank mine runs on a two week on/two week off rotation.

Prairie Creek, NWT (Zn)

This zinc-lead-silver mine would be an underground operation mining 485,000 tonnes of ore per year over a 17-year mine life. The owner Canadian Zinc is currently arranging debt financing for construction in 2018 and is aiming for commercial production by the end of 2019.

About 150 people will be employed during construction. During operations, the employment will swell to more than 300. Personnel will work on a 3 week on/3 week off rotation.

Eagle, Yukon (Au)

The Eagle mine is expected to be Yukon's next operating gold mine, though owner Victoria Gold still needs to raise more than $200 million for construction. The project has a fully operational 100-person all-season camp on site, and another 100-person camp has been purchased. Eagle is expected to employ 350-400 people during production.

The deposits at Eagle contain reserves of 2.7 million ounces of gold sufficient for a mine life of about 10 years. If financing is successful, construction could start as early as this summer with the first gold pour in 2018.

Whabouchi, Quebec (Li)

This lithium mine in central Quebec is under construction and is expected to open in 2018. It is scheduled to run for 26 years as a combined open pit and underground operation. Jobs will also be available at the company’s processing plant in Shawinigan. A list of can jobs required for the operation phase can be found by clicking here.

Owner Nemaska Liyhium is currently preparing to mine and mill a bulk sample, then ship the concentrate to the Shawinigan plant for processing into battery-grade lithium hydroxide that can be used in electric cars.

 


More gems from Virginia:

Virginia Heffernan is a former exploration geologist who met her Welsh husband when they were both working on a gold project in Namibia. They live in Toronto with their teenage son. Virginia mostly stays put these days (she's now a freelance writer and member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada), but Roger continues on his global quest for the next big ore deposit. To check out Virginia's work, visit www.geopen.com.