Nestled on the south shore of the Great Slave Lake, between Hay River and Fort Resolution in the Northwest Territories, lies the Pine Point Project. From its inception to its growth, decline, and future prospects, this project has played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of mining operations. In this blog, we guide you through the intriguing history of the Pine Point Project and what the future holds.
The Discovery: 1890s – 1920s
Discovered in the late 19th-century, the Pine Point ore deposit was known for its rich lead ores. Despite a minor rush in 1898 due to silver rumors, mining wasn’t feasible due to transportation issues. Major exploration took place in 1928-1930, with the sinking of shafts and churn drilling, but halted due to the Great Depression.
The Inception: 1930s – 1950s
During the 1930s, Cominco Ltd (now known as Teck Resources) developed an interest in the area and carried out a series of geological surveys. These studies affirmed the existence of substantial lead and zinc reserves, marking the formal initiation of the Pine Point Project in 1952. These findings sparked a new era of mining exploration in the region. The Pine Point Project, launched in 1952, represented a significant step towards harnessing the area’s abundant mineral resources, setting the stage for future mining operations and economic development.
The Growth: 1960s – 1980s
The project witnessed exponential growth during the 1960s and 1970s. In 1965, the mine officially started its operations. Cominco took the initiative to construct their own town, which was later recognized as Pine Point. This locality evolved into a territorial settlement, housing private businesses and reaching a population of almost 2,000 at its height. The mine became one of the most productive in Canada, providing employment for thousands of people and contributing significantly to the local economy.
The Decline: 1990s – 2000s
However, by the late 1980s, the Pine Point Project started showing signs of decline. Falling metal prices, coupled with increasing operational costs, led to the mine’s closure in 1988. Despite several attempts to revive operations, the project remained dormant for almost two decades.
The Future: 2010s and Beyond
The prospects for the Pine Point Project look promising, largely due to the efforts of Osisko Metals, which has taken on the responsibility to rejuvenate the formerly bustling mining operation. In 2023, Osisko Metals entered into a joint venture with Appian Natural Resources Fund III LP to create Pine Point Mining Limited (PPML), a new company dedicated to developing the Pine Point Project.
The 2022 Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) for the Pine Point Project yielded an after-tax Net Present Value (NPV) of $602M and an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 25%. These figures were based on the current Mineral Resource Estimate of 15.7Mt grading 5.55% Zinc Equivalent (ZnEq) of Indicated Mineral Resources and 47.2Mt grading 5.94% ZnEq of Inferred Mineral Resources. This suggests that the project is favourable to open pit and shallow underground mining.
The mine site features primary infrastructure such as paved highway access, an electrical substation, and 100 kilometres of operational haulage roads. In the face of the global movement towards decarbonization to mitigate climate change, there’s a significant shift towards critical minerals like zinc which are essential for the green energy transition. The zinc and lead concentrates produced at Pine Point are among the purest in the world, making them attractive to refineries that want to reduce the overall amount of contaminants in their concentrates. Pine Point Mining Limited is perfectly positioned to emerge as a leading base metal developer in North America, and furthermore, the Pine Point Project also has promising potential for mineral resource expansion.
Learn more about Pine Point Mining Ltd here and what the future holds for the project here: https://pinepointmining.com/about-pine-point-mining-ltd/