Kirkland Lake Gold views Timmins as an integral part of the company’s future according to its president and chief executive officer Tony Makuch.
Makuch, a native of Timmins, has more than 30 years of experience as a mining engineer.
He joined KL Gold in July 2016. Before that, he was the CEO of Lake Shore Gold from 2008 until 2016, when it was acquired by Tahoe Resources.
This past week, he was the guest speaker for the latest edition of The State of Mining — a series of discussions hosted by the Timmins Chamber of Commerce over the video conferencing platform Zoom.
Makuch covered many topics throughout his presentation. He said the company is “industry leading” in terms of financial strength.
“We are the only gold company with no debt whatsoever on the balance sheet. Very clean company. Three very strong, profitable mines that we’re investing strongly in.”
KL Gold’s three operating mines are the Macassa Mine near Kirkland Lake, Detour Lake Mine near Cochrane, and the Fosterville Mine in southeastern Australia.
Makuch said there is much excitement about the company right now, and that they are continuing strong work in development and exploration.
“We’ve had a lot of success at Fosterville since 2016 to 2020; a lot of success at Macassa from 2016 to 2020. I think over the next few years, we’re really going to see how we can take Detour from something that nobody wanted to buy, nobody thought was any good and turn it into something that is really a cornerstone asset.”
Makuch referenced some “negative views” by some in the mining world on KL Gold’s acquisition of Detour Lake, which was completed in January, but stated he and his team are very confident in the future of that project.
Regarding how these projects could benefit Timmins, Makuch was asked by a Chamber member about KL Gold’s investment in the city, in particular a regional office.
“We want to take a lot of the jobs that were done in Toronto and move them closer to site,” said Makuch. “Certainly there are a lot of jobs that were happening at the site that we see we don’t always need them at site. They’d actually be better, more comfortable, management and such, at a central location. “Timmins fits for us for a number of reasons. It is the regional centre. You have a lot of services, especially air services in Timmins, so the logistics of bringing people in and out helps. We’re looking at it from that perspective.”
Makuch talked about running Detour Lake differently, and that they genuinely want to grow the local and regional economy as much as possible.
“We’re trying to recruit from Northeastern Ontario, from the region, as much as possible, as opposed to across Canada.”
Another exciting development mentioned by Makuch was the goal of building an airstrip near the Detour Lake site.
“We want to start flying people in and out to the mine site, as opposed to busing. Combined travel time to the workplace currently sits around 3½ hours. By the time people show up at the Cochrane bus terminal and get bused up to site, it’s a significant amount of time. We’re trying to improve the logistics on that. Trying to be more centralized,” he said.
“People come to work at Detour; they’re already going to be 14 days away from home. Then I’m asking you to take a half a day, or a day, to get to work, and then a half a day, or a day, to get home. I think that’s not really proper.”
Makuch made an interesting point about the overall picture for the average worker, as it relates to home and family life.
“Work is a necessary evil that we have to do, to do what we really want to do.”
He then elaborated on the plans for the regional office in Timmins.
“The concept is, there’s a lot of our G&A staff (general and administrative), payroll, human resources, benefits, management, engineering, technical services, even our exploration group, are sort of working in a variety of different areas.”
The idea is for the company to consolidate those jobs into one area, and felt Timmins would be the right fit.
“We had satellite offices in a few areas in the region, we had some people in Kirkland Lake travelling back and forth from Timmins, or flying in from Toronto, we had people up at Detour and in Cochrane,” he said.
“Our goal is to build a regional office in Timmins. We need that continuity in management.”
In the meantime, they have been renting several smaller office spaces throughout the city and region, including one on Birch Street South.
Residents shouldn’t expect to see a shiny downtown office building, however.
“We’ve purchased a piece of land we want to build on at the corner of Highway 655 and Laforest Road. It’s very central for us. Logistically, it’s not far from the airport, and it’s on direct road access through to Cochrane. That’s the goal.”
When and if that office does come to fruition, it will be a big boost for the city, he said.
“We can see somewhere between 120 to 175 people working over there,” said Makuch.
“We want to build the region, and we want to grow here and encourage people to come.”
Andrew Autio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Daily Press