Wildfires force miners in Quebec and Labrador to halt operations

Miners are evacuating employees and halting operations. (Image: CTV News | YouTube.)

Mining companies operating in Canada’s Quebec province continue on Tuesday to evacuate employees and halt exploration work as at least 164 forest fires tear through the province and Labrador West, including 114 considered out of control.

About 200 military personnel were on the ground on Tuesday morning, while the provincial government said an emergency order banning access to wooded areas remains in place.

Patriot Battery Metals (TSX-V: PMET) (ASX: PMT) said it halted drilling and surface exploration field activities until the fire situation near its Corvette lithium project in the Eeyou Istchee James Bay region improves.

Osisko Mining (TSX: OSK), which owns the Windfall gold project in the same region, has also suspended work and pulled out workers while it continues to monitor the situation. 

Hecla Mining (NYSE: HL) suspended operations at the Casa Berardi gold mine, located in western Quebec. It said all mine personnel were safe, and that the infrastructure had not been impacted.

Wallbridge Mining (TSX: WM) vacated the camp at its Fenelon gold project over the weekend and suspended all activities on the property located in Quebec’s northern Abitibi region.

The fire has cut off a highway and rail line between Quebec and Labrador West, damaging a telecommunications tower and a fibre-optic line belonging to Rio Tinto’s Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC). 

This has forced (IOC) to idle its operation — including the mine, the concentrator and the pellet plant in Labrador City — until the rail line reopens.

According to consultancy Ernst & Young, climate change currently is the third main threat to the mining industry behind geopolitics and environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns.

Source: EY Knowledge analysis of the business risks and opportunities survey 2023.

Canada’s largest diversified miner Teck Resources (TSX: TECK.A, TECK.B)(NYSE: TECK) was hit by extreme weather events last year, which caused the Vancouver-based miner to miss its copper and steelmaking coal production targets.

Source: EY Knowledge analysis of the business risks and opportunities survey 2023.

The country is on track for its worst-ever year of wildfire destruction as warm and dry conditions are forecast to persist through to the end of the summer, the government said this week.

“The distribution of fires from coast to coast this year is unusual. At this time of the year, fires usually occur only on one side of the country at a time, most often that being in the west,” said Michael Norton, an official with Canada’s Natural Resources ministry.

There are currently 413 active wildfires, including 249 deemed out of control, and about 26,000 people are under evacuation orders across Canada.