Gold and Natural Gas: building a pipeline to better business in Red Lake
Nestled along pristine waterways and amid stately pine trees, the Town of Red Lake is the most north-westerly municipality in Ontario and home to one of the richest gold mining regions in the world.
The half dozen town sites that make up the Municipality of Red Lake have been built historically by mining high grade gold ore in this beautiful wilderness region of northwestern Ontario. Now, a recently completed underground natural gas pipeline is bringing additional economic development opportunities and benefits to the businesses and residents of a district still revered as “the last great gold rush in North America.”
As the result of a cooperative partnership involving the private sector and three levels of government, work began on the engineering, design, construction and financing of a 43 kilometre pipeline from a historic mine site along Highway 105 into the Red Lake region. Completed in the fall of 2012, natural gas has become not only a key energy source for area mines owned by Goldcorp, but is also a lower cost, energy alternative for homes and businesses in the municipality which currently rely on electricity, fuel oil or propane.
“The extension of a natural gas pipeline to businesses within our community has been a phenomenal success”, says Bill Greenway, Economic Development Officer with the Corporation of the Municipality of Red Lake. “Over 75% of our commercial businesses have signed up so far for conversions to natural gas. Many of these same business owners are telling us of the savings they are seeing on their energy bills.”
FedNor, the provincial government, Goldcorp, the Municipality of Red Lake and Union Gas worked closely to make the project a reality. With increased mining activity in the region, natural gas services provide a long-term and sustainable energy alternative for mine operations as well as other significant environmental and economic implications according to Bill Greenway. “Mining operations in the region have addressed their growing needs for more affordable power and our municipality now has the infrastructure to attract and support new business beyond mining”, says Mr. Greenway. “One of the immediate impacts has been in the heating and plumbing sector where two new companies have come to the community to help meet the demand for conversions and equipment installations.”
FedNor’s investment of $2.7 million supported the engineering, design and construction costs related to establishing the natural gas link to service businesses as well as residences in the community. Today, the pipeline extension project is proving to be the catalyst for community economic and business development that the region’s Mayor was hoping for. “Thanks to FedNor’s support, this project is a win-win situation,” says Phil Vinet, Mayor of Red Lake. “We’re seeing cost savings for local businesses, new jobs being created, plus new opportunities for businesses throughout the region.”
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