Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut December 20, 2011 - 6:46 am

Hope Bay’s Dec. 15 fire causes $500,000 in damages

YK fire department sends up gear to replace burned emergency equipment

JANE GEORGE
Work at the Hope Bay gold mine project's Doris North site stopped after the Dec. 15 fire, which took out a building as well as emergency equipment. But operations are due to resume early in 2012. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
Work at the Hope Bay gold mine project's Doris North site stopped after the Dec. 15 fire, which took out a building as well as emergency equipment. But operations are due to resume early in 2012. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

A Dec. 15 blaze at the Hope Bay gold mine project, damaged a building and emergency equipment housed inside, causing about $500,000 in damages.

But by early in 2012, work at the mine’s Doris North site, 125 kilometres southwest of Cambridge Bay, should be back to normal, said Chris Hanks, director of environment and social responsibility for Newmont Mining Corp., which owns Hope Bay.

No one suffered any injuries during the fire, but losses from the fire at Doris North included a building, an ambulance and a fire truck — essential safety equipment for the isolated work site.

The Yellowknife Fire Department has loaned Newmont “some gear to make sure we have adequate supplies on site,” Hanks said Dec. 19.

Newmont is also “in the process of obtaining permanent gear that will be delivered as soon as it can be sourced and shipped,” he said.

But the fire has had an impact on operations: as a result of the fire, all non-essential mine workers started their Christmas holiday break earlier than originally planned, and by Dec. 19, they were all off site, Hanks said.

The fire was discovered at about 7:15 p.m. on Dec. 15, when Hope Bay workers found the fire — and then managed to put it out by 11:30 p.m. that evening.

“While the loss of property is regrettable, I am proud and thankful of the quick action demonstrated by our Emergency Response Teams ensuring our personnel remained safe, while protecting adjacent structures. Our teams are well trained, and they are committed to safety at Hope Bay. Their dedication, skill and professionalism is greatly appreciated,” said Jim Spenceley, president of Hope Bay Mining Ltd..

About 200 workers are housed in Hope Bay’s Doris North accommodation complex, which is surrounded by outbuildings, machinery, and, under the nearby mesa, a network of mine shafts reaching more than 70 metres underground.

Newmont has been moving ahead with its plans to bring Doris North into production over the past year.

And workers have already laid the foundation for a mill at Doris North, which would extract gold from the rock being mined at the site.

But it’s not clear yet what impact the Dec. 15 fire will have on its longer-term plans.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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