Red Lake mine staff are feeling particularly upbeat. It's only been days since they became part of the world's largest gold mining company.

"Newmont's a big company. We're looking forward to being part of their future. They have similar values as Goldcorp, so it looks like it'll be a good fit," said James Russell, who is the sustainability manager in Red Lake.

russelljamieSustainability manager James RussellIn mid-January, Goldcorp announced it was merging with Newmont of Colorado in a $10 billion deal. Together, the companies hoped to have the Vancouver office oversee North American operations, with combined gold production of more than 3 million ounces per year, more than three times Goldcorp's current Canadian gold production.

"Sustainability is a big ticket item for us," Russell emphasized, during his address to the Kenora District Municipal Association Friday. "We want to make sure we're not just a mine in the community, but a mine that's part of the community."

The Red Lake site still employs between 1,000 and 1,100 employees. Last year, about $36 million was spent by the mine on local procurement, including $8 million with First Nation companies

Russell added the Red Lake Goldcorp bunkhouse was made, when no housing was available, but the company has a different approach now.

"We want people to come here, live here and be part of the community," he said, during a presentation to the Kenora District Municipal Association.

Russell adds projects of mutual benefit include $5 million for the new medical clinic, as well as work on the Kelson's subdivision, which has added 54 lots 10 homes.

Over the years, Goldcorp has also sponsored the Miners junior hockey team, the Norseman festival, the winter carnival, as well as subsidize the rec centre, which has a deficit of about $300,000. Russell adds the mine makes about $250,000/year in cash donations to the surrounding communities, plus in kind contributions.

This has included flying in Eric Radford and Megan Duhamel for a visit, after winning gold at the Olympics. In addition, the company's social responsibility policy extends to neighbouring First Nations, such as Wabauskang and Lac Seul, as well as municipalities.

Since 1949, the mine has had an estimated 10-year lifespan, Russell noted, understating the historic volatility of the commodity market. An ounce of gold has been as low as $1,123 in March of 2010, or as high as $1,746 an ounce last Christmas Eve, a difference of $623 an ounce.

As part of their closure plan in place, $56 million is in place to meet future liabilities, and the total could reach $100 million, before the closure plan is completed, Russell added. The company is also going back to improve upon previous standards, including tailing ponds that met previous standards, but might not meet today's regulations.

(Additional photography courtesy Goldcorp)

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