Hudbay’s Snow Lake camp has long been an issue of concern to both residents and leadership within the community. The problem arises not in the fact that it exists (although there are some who wish it didn’t), but in the method under which it operates.
Camps/dorms have been a part of this town from the late 1940s up to the early teens, when the company levelled an area near the Snow Lake Mine headframe and set up a host of trailers and a cafeteria.
From the ‘40s up until recently, camps were a way of integrating people into Snow Lake. Having them acclimatize before becoming full contributing members of the community, employees got their room, and it was “their” room until they moved into a home, apartment, or back whence they came. There were also housing incentives in the form of interest-free mortgages that further helped those who liked what they saw in Snow Lake.
Currently, most new employees move into the camp when they start their rotation and move out when they finish it. New employees have no chance of integrating into the community on days off … because they have nowhere to live. This fact has been pointed out to company officials at several community meetings and up until two weeks back, many in Snow Lake wondered if they’d been listening.
Well, it appears that they have … in a recent ad on a Snow Lake job board, Hudbay advised that they were seeking Red Seal heavy-duty equipment technicians for the Lalor Mine outside Snow Lake. They noted that the positions are on a seven days on, seven days off rotation and although they do have a camp available for those who wish to drive in and out of Snow Lake, it wasn’t a “fly-in-fly-out” opportunity. They further noted that, “Relocation packages and housing assistance is available to move you and your family to the vibrant community of Snow Lake.” That one sentence seems to be an abrupt change in tack for the company, and although people in Snow Lake took immediate and positive notice, Hudbay doesn’t seem to want to talk about it. I asked Hudbay’s director of corporate communications Scott Brubacher to expand on the change and there was no reply as of press time.
Nonetheless, I was in contact with the Liberal MP for Kildonan-St. Paul, MaryAnn Mihychuk. She advised that in addition to the letters to ministers, parliamentary secretaries, meeting with Natural Resources Canada, as well as her Facebook and petition campaigns on the issue, she recently spoke with company officials at PDAC in Toronto. Mihychuk stated that she had a letter going to the mining association’s watchdog as well as providing it for Hudbay’s upcoming environmental assessment application. She further noted that the letter touched on housing, the town and Hudbay’s social responsibility.
In other news, over 100 people came out to the Snow Lake Motor Inn on the evening of Saturday, March 9 to wish local entrepreneur and all-round great guy, Gerard Lamontagne, a happy 50th birthday! “G,” as he is affectionately referred to by friend and foe, was smiling, slapping backs and sipping the odd cold one, as he held court throughout the evening. Local band Beauties and the Beast provided entertainment and they had the dance floor full and the stage lights swaying with their long and well-appreciated sets of hometown favorites.
Several of “G’s” former schoolmates made it home for the bash and it was great to touch base with Ian Lenartowich, Danny Nagy, and Lonnie Prince … also spotted Warren Suchar and Troy Woroniuk, but didn’t get a chance to chat. Nevertheless, a great evening celebrating 50 years in the life of one of Snow Lake’s finest.
One last item … Far Resources recently announced that they are looking towards strengthening their advisory board with a focus on future growth opportunities in the battery and technology sector. On March 6 they advised that the company will be assisted by, “technology and consulting firm BattMat Technologies Inc. to create an advanced strategy for marketing Far’s lithium resources, identifying new technology-driven trends in battery materials, and identifying potential partners and resource acquisitions for battery metals and related technologies.”
BattMat will be represented on Far’s advisory board by Lee Wheelbarger and Roger Wagner, who will bring their expertise to Far’s team to help guide the company’s growth in this rapidly expanding sector.
“It is a fantastic opportunity and honour to be able to work with BattMat and these two greatly respected industry experts as part of our team,” said Far president and CEO Toby Mayo. “Expanding the company’s strategy into the battery and related technology sector will set us apart in what is an increasingly crowded lithium exploration market.”
Also, several columns back I stated that I would report on a quarterly conference call that Hudbay held on Feb. 20. In it, Hudbay president and CEO Alan Hair began the presentation by outlining the items and issues he would address during the call and noted at the outset that a shareholder (Waterton Global Resource Management) had come forward with claims and concerns in respect to Hudbay. He added that they would be dealing with it in due course. Hair then made it clear that the conference call was to discuss the fourth quarter results and that they would take questions on their business … code for they would not be discussing Waterton’s claims or their responses to them. The resulting question-and-answer session went on for over a half-hour and touched on most of Hudbay’s properties and many of its processes.