After 49 years of operation, Xstrata Zinc's Brunswick Mine will close today. Located in northern New Brunswick approximately 30 kilometers southwest of the city of Bathurst, Brunswick Mine was one of the world's largest underground zinc-lead mines providing direct employment to approximately 700 people. In a fitting tribute to its commitment to safety, the mine recently learned that it will be awarded this year's John T. Ryan Award for outstanding safety performance in the metal mine category in the Quebec and East Region.
Brunswick Mine General Manager Greg Ashe said: "I am extremely proud that Brunswick's workforce has been awarded one of our industry's most prestigious safety awards. It's especially significant because as we come near to the end of the life of the Brunswick Mine, the challenges of safely mining the remaining ore becomes even greater. This award is a recognition of the tremendous effort that has gone into creating our 'safety first' culture and I can think of no better way to crown nearly half a century of operations than by receiving this honour."
The Ryan Awards are presented to mines with the lowest accident frequency, with trophies granted across metal, coal and select mine categories. This is the ninth regional honour for the mine having won this trophy in 2010, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 1996, 1995 and 1994 and comes after winning the national award in 2011.
For Mine General Manager, Greg Ashe, "Each mining operation has its strong points. For some it is the grade of the ore, for others it is the ease by which the ore is extracted or milled. At Brunswick Mine the dominant strength is and has always been our people", said Mr. Ashe.
This week's closure comes after a year of celebration of the history of the mine including the publication of a commemorative book. While many of the workers at Brunswick Mine are eligible for retirement and the company has held on site job fairs to help workers transition into new employment, there will be some who will be looking for new forms of employment post-closure.
The mine has played a vital role in the economic development of the Chaleur Region and the Province. "Over the years, the mine has created opportunities for thousands of people and it is their spirit and innovation that helped safely build Brunswick Mine and kept it strong for almost 50 years", explained Mr. Ashe.
Brunswick's massive sulphide ore body was discovered in 1953 and production began in 1964. The mine has operated continuously since that time, surviving economic ups and downs and four major changes in ownership to produce approximately 150 million tonnes of ore at grades of 8.46% zinc, 3.33% lead, 0.37% copper, and 99 g/t silver.
Xstrata Zinc has already begun a comprehensive reclamation process at the site. This includes removing all buildings on site, capping the tailings facility and securing and vegetating the area in an effort to return the site as closely as possible to its original state. This process is expected to take about five years and a small number of staff will remain on site to monitor this activity.
Source: Xtrata Zinc