Back to News northernontariobusiness   Ian Ross

Oct 22, 2020


Industry News

Dubreuilville gears up for growth


Gold mine construction means plenty of planning for northeastern Ontario wilderness community

Melanie Pilon will soon be putting out the call for skilled and entrepreneurial-minded Dubreuilville ex-pats to come home.

That’s the primary audience for the economic development officer in the secluded northeastern Ontario community as excitement builds over news that Argonaut Gold is pressing ahead with construction of its Magino open-pit gold mine next January.

The mine project, 14 kilometres southeast of town, will be the second such operation in the vicinity of the mainly francophone community of 600.

Alamos’ Island Gold underground mine, Argonaut’s next-door neighbour, is one of Canada’s most productive operations, and continues to expand. Their workforce of more than 500 draws close to 200 locals and those from surrounding communities. 

“This project is great for Dubreuilville; it’s right in our backyard,” said Pilon of the development nearly a decade in the making. 

“It was welcome news in a kind of a yucky COVID time.”

No official sod-turning date has been set, but the company expects the first gold pour to take place in 2023.

Gearing up for growth and the sudden influx of people related to the US$380-million development means a sizeable to-do list for town officials like Pilon.

The construction workforce of 400 to 600, expected to arrive for the two-year build in early 2021, could almost double the town’s population.

Big contracting firms usually provide their own modular accommodations. The challenge is finding an adequate place in Dubreuilville to park them.

“That’s the biggest problem,” said Pilon. “We’re a small municipality so we have limited space within our boundaries.”

Dubreuilville is a former – and legendary – forestry town, built on the backs of the Dubreuil brothers in the 1960s.

The sawmill closed in 2008 and a Québec demolition company – the current owners of the property – are tearing down the buildings this fall.

A cleared mill site would seem ideal to place the construction crews, but potential contamination could limit its uses.

“The mill site has to remain of industrial use,” said Pilon. “We’re not able to change the zoning to residential.”

Should that land be unavailable, the township might opt to extend its boundaries to create room for industrial, commercial and residential uses.

Still, the township is eyeballing the mill property for a future industrial park for mining service and supply companies.

With six gold mines operating within a 200-kilometre radius, plus a frenzy of exploration going on, the municipality envisions Dubreuilville as a mine service centre.

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