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New gold mine in northern Ontario could become biggest in Canada

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IAMGOLD’s Cote Gold open pit mine, located off Highway 144 between Timmins and Sudbury, had its official ribbon-cutting ceremony this week as production ramps up.

Bryan Wilson (left), Cote Mine’s General Manger, hosted company officials, its partners from Japan’s Sumitomo Metal Mining and from local Indigenous Communities for an onsite celebration. (Lydia Chubak/CTV News Northern Ontario)

Cote primarily produces gold, with silver as a by-product.

“Our production is growing, we're still not at nameplate capacity yet,” said Bryan Wilson, general manager of Cote Gold.

“We're still going through teething problems in the process plant, but it's getting to where we need to be.”

The mine poured its first gold bar at the end of March, but Wilson wouldn’t reveal hard figures during the ribbon-cutting ceremony the company hosted Wednesday, but he said the pit will need to produce around 170,000 tonnes a day of low-grade ore.

Cote Gold is situated in the territory belonging to Mattagami and Flying Post First Nations and community leaders said they have a really good working relationship with IAMGOLD.

“We're going to be connecting with each other on a regular basis to see what's happening, to update about all of the things that we need to communicate about,” said Jennifer Constant, Chief of Mattagami First Nation.

Cote Gold employs between 700 and 800 people and northern mayors are excited about its future.

“Timmins and Sudbury get to share a lot of that, all those jobs … all the spinoffs for … for our economy,” said Paul Lefebvre, mayor of Greater Sudbury.

“It's huge … this project that will possibly even be the largest gold mine in Canada.”

Uses autonomous trucks

Officials said one of the mine’s more interesting features is the use of autonomous trucks. Wilson said Cote Gold is the first mine in Ontario to use them.

“Since we've started those trucks, we've not dumped one truck with a person in the truck,” said Wilson.

“So they, they drive around the mine site, they know where to go.”

“From an environmental point of view, it's world-class,” said George Pirie, Ontario’s Minister of Mines.

Pirie said Cote Gold is a big reason why he ran for provincial politics since it took more than five decades to develop.

“That’s unacceptable,” said Pirie.

Investment from Japan’s Sumitomo Metal Mining Company helped launch this joint venture project and recently, IAMGOLD announced it will repurchase more shares, bringing it to a 70-30 split.

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