TIMMINS -- After at least eight years of planning, IAMGOLD has approval to begin construction on its Côté Gold mining project south of Gogama, Ont.

The open-pit mine is to be built at Côté Lake. It will take three years and around $900 million to build, plus more than 1,300 jobs will be created during construction.

“It’s a major investment, coming at a time when I think the economy is looking for some major investments,” said IAMGOLD president Gordon Stothart on Tuesday, referring to the economic hit caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project’s expected to have at least an 18-year lifespan, according to the company’s reports. Projections estimate it could add $10 billion to the provincial economy and $5 billion in wages, including 450 permanent, full-time jobs.

Working with governments in Sudbury and Timmins, Stothart said the mine will be a major boost for northern Ontario.

“We want to continue to supply the Timmins-Sudbury region and reinforce that vision that it really is a centre of mining worldwide,” Stothart said.

Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger said the announcement is positive news during a “very trying and difficult 2020.”

“A project of this magnitude, in our own backyard, combined with our world-class mining service and supply companies will see amazing local benefits to our local job market and economy,” Bigger said in an emailed statement. “It will also boost our innovation and research and will only solidify Greater Sudbury's standing as the go-to and leader in mining in the world.”

Working with First Nations

Leaders of Mattagami First Nation and Flying Post First Nation said the Côté Gold project will greatly benefit their communities, which are near where the mine will be built.

The communities worked with the mining firm to draft an impact-benefit agreement they felt would adequately compensate them for the lost historical hunting land.

“Something that we’ve negotiated that will basically cover the cost, the loss of use of that land and the historical data that we’ve had with that territory,” said Chad Boissoneau, chief of Mattagami First Nation.

Boissoneau said he is grateful to elders in his community who worked to support the First Nation and advocated for its members over the years.

Many members of the community will work at the mine, he said, which would mean being able to work near home, rather than moving to Timmins or Sudbury.

“Our members could be employed there for, who knows, 30 to 50 years, depending on the ore body and the richness of gold there,” Boissoneau said. “It’s an exciting day for me, for my council and for my community members.”