Gold fever breeding a sense of optimisim in the district
As we reach the Christmas season and the end of the year, it is a time to reflect on the past year. I am left with a feeling that across the district from Atikokan to Rainy River to Nestor Falls, that there today exists an air of optimism.
Prospecting, gold exploration, and gold mining have been with us for over 115 years.
I was reminded on Thursday night that the first gold mining in the Osisko proposed mining area took place in 1895. It was in the same time frame that gold was discovered at Little American Island and the community of Rainy Lake City was established on the US side of Rainy Lake.
Little American Island proved to be a false claim, but the storm of prospectors who were too poor to travel to Alaska for that gold rush, found their way to the Rainy River District. At the Hammond Reef mine now known as Osisko, underground mining lasted for two brief spells first in 1896 and again in 1937.
With the demise of the mine at Little American island, Rainy Lake city disappeared and prospectors fanned out across the district and Mine Centre became the boomtown with three gold mines, the Cone, the Foley and the Golden Star. At what became known as the Gold Rock mine, gold was discovered in 1898 on the Upper Manitou.
In 1927 gold was discovered at Straw Lake.
Gold and mining have constantly been part of the excitement that has attracted people to the district and is again attracting attention to our area.
Gold has constantly been on the horizon of booms in the district and today we have bookends at each end of the district with Osisko and Rainy River Resources both moving forward to create viable gold producing mines.
Renewed interest in now being shown at Straw Lake and Mine Centre.
Interest in gold mining and the employment of district people in the discovery process has created this new sense of optimism across the Rainy River district.
Taking in the Emo Holly Daze celebration on the weekend, everyone was eager to discuss the mining happening in the district. And with the focus of both Rainy River Resources and Osisko to buy local, many millions of dollars are finding their way into the businesses.
Fuels to drive drilling rigs, all terrain vehicles to scramble around the staked property, half tons, food, accommodations, and safety clothing and gear are all expanding the economy of the district. New educational programs are today being offered through Confederation College.
Drilling programs by Mineral Mountain Resources, Rainy River Resources, Bayfield Ventures, Q-Gold and Osisko are putting the spotlight on the Rainy River district. Each new announcement by the junior mining companies and exploration companies makes one want to believe that at least one sustainable gold mine will be in production before the end of this decade.
It is also causing councils from Atikokan to Rainy River to review their community’s infrastructure. How much more sewer and water delivery capacity will each community require? How many new building lots will be needed to accommodate the influx of permanent workers. Where can work camps be established to house the thousands of workers who will construct the mines should a mine proceed?
And the school board has to be thinking about where new schools will be built should a formal mine be announced.
Any mine will bring additional changes to the district and provide a boost to the economy. If both Osisko and Rainy River Resources come to fruition, the district will change forever.
It is that sense of optimism that is so contagious.