Ontario forest fire halts gold projects

Fri May 25, 2012 5:29pm EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Two more Canadian companies - Brigus Gold Corp and Lake Shore Gold Corp - have joined the list of miners halting operations in northern Ontario as dozens of forest fires caused power outages and forced evacuations in the region.

Brigus suspended gold production at its Black Fox mill near Timmins, about 700 kilometers (450 miles) north of Toronto, because of a power outage. The company expects electricity to be restored early next week, it said on Friday.

Its Black Fox mine, some 30 km away, is still operating, and the company is stockpiling ore to be processed once power comes back online, the company said in a statement.

Smoke from a forest fire about 15 km southwest of Lake Shore Gold's Timmins West project forced it to halt operations there on Thursday. The underground mine remains temporarily closed.

"We canceled the day and night shift for tomorrow, and then it's just day to day after that," company spokesman Mark Utting said.

Lake Shore sees no impact from the fire on its production forecast right now, as it has large stockpiles of ore available at both its Bell Creek mill and Timmins West mine. Operations at Bell Creek, east of Timmins, have not been affected by the fire.

There are now 45 fires active in the province, 43 of which are in the northeast region, according to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources website.

The blaze near Timmins has led the city to declare a state of emergency. About 120 people have been evacuated in the area.

Dry conditions and strong winds have set off the fires, which have also threatened areas near Kirkland Lake, east of Timmins.   Continued...