Close to 60 residents showed up to a public meeting held by council members of the Town of Snow Lake in the Lawrie Marsh Community Hall at 7:30 p.m. on the evening of Monday, June 3. The single point of discussion was Hudbay Minerals’ plan to expand their camp with 160 new rooms, as well as an addition to the current camp’s cafeteria. Many of the questions generated by those attending the gathering were aimed at the company and their operations. Sadly, no one representing Hudbay attended or took part in the meeting.
The meeting opened with introductions of the community’s council members and then, noting their commitment to transparency, Mayor Peter Roberts explained that the town had recently received a letter from Hudbay informing them of their intent to expand camp accommodations in the community. “Starting in mid-June, Hudbay will be looking to start a ramp up for the new 1901 ore body and the refurbishing of the New Brit’ Mill and tailings line,” said the Mayor. “This in turn will mean more employees, and as this happens there will be a need for an additional 160 rooms.”
Mayor Roberts explained that Hudbay will be setting up the new camp on company property at the top of the hill behind where the old HBM&S cafeteria and dormitories sat (behind the recreation facilities and bordered by Balsam Avenue and Cedar Avenue).
Roberts said that the council will propose they leave a buffer of trees on the outside edge of the site. He also advised that Hudbay are willing to set aside 20 of the 160 rooms, as dorms rather than a camp, for employees who wish to remain in Snow Lake on days off.
The mayor then shifted to an overview some items that they have discussed with Snow Lake’s largest employer. He explained that, with Hudbay’s financial help, several upgrades and purchases will be made in respect to the town’s water supply system in order to provide the potable water needed for Hudbay’s expansion:
- Hudbay will purchase and install 30 Aqua Flo units ($65,000) to reduce bleeding in winter and save the town approximately $36,000 annually on wasted (treated) water.
- Hudbay will help with the purchase and installation of new pumps in the water distribution building, at a cost of approximately $225,000.
- Hudbay will install a variable flow control valve ($150,000) at their mill in town. It will be operated from the town’s water distribution building, allowing town personnel to control water supply to the mill operation during peak hours of the town operation.
- Hudbay will pay for upgrades to the automation of the town’s distribution plant up to $520,000.
After the overview, Mayor Roberts opened the floor to questions, noting that the council will meet with Hudbay again within the next week, and pass on any concerns residents have.
There were a number of concerns and questions from the floor. These included questions about Hudbay’s water usage during and after construction at their in-town mill. The mayor answered that the company would have their own process water supply after the construction period and would rely on the town for their potable water. Another asked whether the number of permanent rooms in the camp could/would be increased. Mayor Roberts said that the council was working towards that goal. A show of hands was asked for in respect to how many people wanted to see the company expand the number of permanent rooms in the camp … it was near unanimous. There was a question about whether the company would supply workers with interest-free mortgages (as they have in the past). Mayor Roberts stated that they asked this and Hudbay’s answer was a “definite no.” There were also questions about parking, running shuttles for Flin Flon workers, and the camp being next to a daycare, which council members answered as best they could with the information they had. One very real concern was from a gentleman who asked if Flin Flon workers coming in to work and live in the camp would be bumping Snow Lake workers and homeowners with less seniority. This one question and several others hammered home the fact that Hudbay should have had someone at the meeting to answer queries pertaining to their operation. The question-and-answer session went on for three-quarters of an hour before the meeting ended with a round of applause for the council.
Mayor Roberts assured those in attendance that they would be brought to Hudbay’s attention the next time the two groups met.