Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation Minister Christopher Mitchelmore announced the loan in the House of Assembly Thursday afternoon, with representatives from the town and the mine company present.
“This financial support will help diversify our economy and strengthen rural development on the Burin Peninsula and the province as a whole. It will create upwards of 1,000 person-years of employment in the construction phase,” Mitchelmore said in the legislature.
“In addition, approximately 3,000 person-years of employment in mining and milling are anticipated through the first 12 operating years.”
Speaking to reporters in the lobby of the Confederation Building, Canada Fluorspar CEO Lindsay Gorrill said the loan is sort of the last piece of the puzzle for the project.
“This is a big piece of our financing, so this basically secures the finalization of the project,” Gorrill said.
“Right now, hopefully with the weather, we’re three months ahead of schedule. So we believe we’ll be in production by September.”
The mine is already under construction, but last week there was a problem when demonstrators blocked access to the site in protest against the company’s decision to hire people from outside St. Lawrence over town residents.
Both Gorrill and Mayor Paul Pike said the issue is being dealt with.
“Of course, with any company that comes into a town in rural Newfoundland, there will be growing pains, but we’re working through those now as we speak,” he said.
In the legislature, both opposition parties supported the loan, albeit with some criticism of the government.
“Given the negative image of fluorspar mining in the province it would have been helpful to have an update on what health and safety measures are in place for the new mine to prevent the occupational diseases of the past,” NDP MHA Lorraine Michael said. “I’m sure they are, but it would be good to know what they are.”
Progressive Conservative MHA Steve Kent said the money for this loan had been set aside by the government in 2011, when the Tories were in power.