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Millertown mine project progressing through environmental stage

Marathon Gold president and CEO Matt Manson. Photo courtesy Marathon Gold
Marathon Gold president and CEO Matt Manson. Photo courtesy Marathon Gold

After an extended Spring break, work at the Valetine Gold Project near Millertown is back to business.

The Valentine Gold Project near Millertown in central Newfoundland reopened June 9 as the province moved into Level 3 of its pandemic return program.

After regular spring break — prolonged because of the pandemic — the project implemented back-to-work protocols with precautions against the spread of the COVID-19 virus at the forefront of plans.

“The development of the mine stayed on track,” said Marathon Gold president and CEO Matt Manson.

The company behind the mining project has made it a point to put its support behind the communities closest to its base of operations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it made sure to keep that going with a $90,000 donation to help with the health, wellness, food security and education in those six communities.

The group was recently awarded a Junior Exploration Assistance Program grant from the provincial government worth $89,000. In light of the pandemic, Marathon Gold matched that number in its donation to local communities.

Of that money, $60,000 of it was divided and funnelled into Grand Falls-Windsor, Bishop’s Falls, Millertown, Buchans, Buchans Junction and Badger.

The remaining $30,000 was donated to South and Central Health Foundation.

“They’re our neighbours,” Manson said of those communities.

When it comes to Valentine Gold, Marathon is in the midst of working through its environmental assessment project.

They hope to submit their Environmental Impact Statement by the end of September and are hoping to proceed to the next stage next summer.

“We”ve almost got a full camp now and working,” said Manson. “The business is full-steam ahead.”

The project is located 55 kilometres southwest of Millertown and includes four potential mining deposits.

When it is ready, the mine could mean over a decade of steady employment in the region and include hundreds of jobs.

Public meetings in their six regional communities have been very successful. There are more planned with the Qalipu First Nation and the Miawpukek First Nation in Conne River.

“We’ve had huge turnouts for meetings,” said Manson. “There has been a lot of interest and a lot of the questions have been about employment.”

The positive effects on the economics in the towns in the immediate area of the project are already noticeable.

In Millertown, the local sawmill has been able to add a handful of new jobs while it completes work for Marathon Gold.

“It can mean a lot of things for Millertown,” said Mayor Fiona Humber. “We’re hoping to see more people coming in.

“Hopefully the local businesses can benefit.”

Buchans is another town in the immediate area of the mine that is encouraged by the presence of Marathon Gold.

Mayor Derm Corbett is impressed with the level of community engagement the town has seen from the company in the way of public meetings, even during the pandemic, and projected spinoff locally for the project.

“They’ve already put a very good foot forward,” he said. “They’re visible in the community and it’s been a great experience.

“It has been a breath of fresh air.”

Nicholas Mercer is a local journalism initiative reporter covering central Newfoundland for SaltWire Network.

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