News that Vale Manitoba Operations could possibly spend $1 billion over five years to deepen Thompson mines in anticipation of a growing demand for nickel as a component of batteries for electric vehicles made Thompson the talk of November’s mineral exploration conference in Winnipeg.
Gary Eyres, head of Manitoba Operations, told attendees at the Central Canada Mineral Exploration Convention about the proposed investment, first revealed to members of the Thompson Chamber of Commerce at their Nov. 13 lunch meeting.
“Once we get approved – and I really am confident we will get this approval – we are looking at nearly $8 billion in economic benefit to the region over the next 25 years,” Eyres was reported as saying in the Winnipeg Free Press.
Coun. Judy Kolada, who attended the convention, told her fellow councillors at the conclusion of their Nov. 25 meeting that Thompson was in the spotlight at the convention.
“Both [Mayor Colleen Smook] and Gary Eyres had a number of opportunities to be front and centre to speak about the activities in Thompson so it was very positive for Thompson,” said Kolada.
The City of Thompson said in a Nov. 26 Facebook post that ALCI Aviation and Vale would be conducting aerial surveys around Thompson beginning Nov. 27 using a DC-3T aircraft that would make repeated low-altitiude passes over the city and large parts of the surrounding area.
“The scientific equipment that the aircraft is carrying will not impact the safety of equipment or individuals on the ground,” said the post.
Other good mining news for the north coming out of the convention included a Hudbay official saying the company is fast-tracking a potential mine near Snow Lake and Rockcliff Metals Corp. saying it planned to spend $20 million on exploration in Manitoba over the next few years, the Free Press reported. Exploration spending was up 42 per cent in Manitoba last year and Vale is planning to spend $45 million on exploration in t0he next five years.