Timmins businessman speaks out saying too many questions about Hollinger Pit are being ignored

Timmins businessman speaks out saying too many questions about Hollinger Pit are being ignored

Bill Hughes tells Chamber of Commerce that supporting the Hollinger Pit project is premature

By Len Gillis lgillis@timminstimes.com

A well-known Timmins businessman has told the Timmins Chamber of Commerce that its support of the Goldcorp Hollinger Mine rejuvenation project is wrong and premature.

Bill Hughes contends far too many important questions are not being answered by the city’s largest mining company.

Hughes, who looks after the Senator Place Apartment building on Algonquin Boulevard, made his strong feelings known to the chamber this week, saying the chamber should have at least spoken to chamber members living and working near the proposed area for the new open pit mine.

Although the plan to rejuvenate the old Hollinger gold mine had been in the planning stages for at least five years, it wasn’t until January of this year that Goldcorp Porcupine Gold Mines formally revealed the company was moving ahead to develop the project as a superpit operation to recover known gold reserves leftover from when the Hollinger ceased operations as an underground mine in 1968.

“The mine is expected to begin production in the second half of 2012. Combined with the Hoyle Pond and Dome underground mine, this addition of a large-tonnage orebody will complement the Porcupine operations, optimize the efficiency of the Dome Mill Complex and extend the operation’s mine life,” said Goldcorp general manager Marc Lauzier on January 9th in Timmins.

Businessman Hughes told the chamber of commerce this week there are just too many unanswered questions about the project.

“For the past year, I have been trying to get answers from Goldcorp concerning the adverse effects the development and the operation of this open pit mine will have on my business, my property and my tenants. I have been unsuccessful in getting a direct response,” said Hughes.


He said he has heard that some members of the project citizens’ advisory committee are also being stonewalled in their efforts to get answers to some community inquiries.

“I must say that as a businessman and property owner who will be adversely affected by this project, I believe that I am entitled to a direct response from Goldcorp. I should not be referred to an incomplete and vague website or an advisory committee in order to get non-answers,” Hughes told the chamber.

Hughes said his concerns are about the proximity of his building to the perimeter of the new pit and the fact that there could be damages from blasting, earth movement and vibrations, and that such perils are not insurable.


Hughes outlined for the chamber how he has spent thousands of dollars in the past year on consulting engineering studies on his property that he said spell out concerns that not only will the pit project have an impact on his property, but also for many other properties close to the Hollinger project footprint.

Hughes quoted several conclusions and questions from RWDI, an international consulting engineering company, and Terraprobe, also consulting engineers, hired to review Goldcorp’s technical reports on the Hollinger proposal.

According to information provided to Hughes by these studies, the dust and air emissions from the pit project will exceed regulatory limits by more than 400 per cent, and some dust and air emissions in specific areas will be even higher than that.

Noise, dust and vibrations will also result from the construction of the rock berm over a period of three years as that berm is being constructed. Goldcorp said a 20-metre berm is required to surround the pit project to separate the mining operation from the rest of the city.

According to RWDI, Goldcorp’s own consultant’s studies show that the Ontario Ministry of the Environment “has also identified concerns with the berm during its construction.”

“The proposed setback distances are not sufficient to mitigate nuisance noise and vibration effects from blasting,” said RWDI.

The RWDI report also mentioned that sleep disturbance over a 24 hour period has not been addressed in the planning.

Hughes said his engineers also stated that groundwater levels will be lowered during the operation of the pit and that could this “could cause stress on existing structures, migration of fill and ground settlement”.

Terraprobe said Goldcorp provides insufficient information about the impact that dewatering will have “on the stability of existing mine workings, or with respect to surface subsidence or other related effects.”

Subsidences in Timmins are known to create sinkholes.

“I am told from a variety of sources that this is a marginal project, not a development of major economic potential,” Hughes told the chamber.

“My question is that if this is a marginal project why should it proceed at all and why should we the neighbours and the community assume the risks and costs ourselves so that Goldcorp can make a profit?” he asked.




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