East Kemptville tin mine could be reborn as processing plant by 2018

An idle tin mine 45 kilometres northeast of Yarmouth, N.S., could soon be reborn as a tin processing plant employing between 20 and 30 full-time employees.

Toronto-based Avalon Advanced Metals purchased the East-Kemptville site from Rio Algom, who closed the mine in 1992 because of falling tin prices.

Avalon Advanced Metals president and CEO Don Bubar said reopening the mine as a processing plant will not only create jobs, but also remedy the environment at the site.

"What we're planning to do is actually not mining. The ore we want to treat has already been mined and it's actually contributing to the environmental liability there," he said.

Rising tin prices fuel reopening

Bubar told CBC's Information Morning that the ore the plant will be using was mined in the 1980s, but fell below the cut-off grade to justify processing as tin prices fell.

Bubar said with tin prices climbing back up to around $20,000 US a tonne, it's now worth it to process the ore.

Advancements in extraction technology have also created opportunities to extract metals from the ore that historically would have been unreachable.

"There's going to be opportunity to take advantage of this, to extract some of the other rare metals in the resource such as indium," said Bubar. 

Potential to expand

Bubar said the processing plant could be up and running by the end of 2018.

He said while the operation will start with 20 to 30 jobs initially, the company will be looking for opportunities to expand the plant into a bigger operation moving forward. 

In the meantime, he said it'll bring some jobs back to the community while managing the material left over by the previous operation.

"This is a really neat case history potentially here, to implement an environmental remediation program that is actually economic," said Bubar.