The Matagami Mine is proud to have contributed to the economic vitality of the region for more than a half-century.
The first mineral deposits in the Matagami region were discovered in 1957, and the first of these to be confirmed viable was the Matagami Lake deposit. Mine development and concentrator construction efforts got underway in 1959 and continued until 1963, when mining and concentrate operation began.
In the years that followed, a total of 12 sulphide deposits were discovered and two additional mines (Orchan and New Hosco) went into production. A second concentrator run by Orchan Mines Limited, a subsidiary of Noranda, was commissioned that same year. The tailings from both concentrators were pumped to the Matagami tailings site.
An open pit started at the Matagami Lake mine (MLM) facility in 1970.
In 1973–1974, the tailings site was divided up for the first time in order to increase capacity, with the new Garon Lake and Norita mines starting up in 1973 and 1976, respectively.
By 1979, the Orchan mine reserves were exhausted, but the Orchan concentrator continued to operate until 1982 to process ore from other active mines. Between the decommissioning of this concentrator and the closure of MLM in 1988, all processed ore came from the Matagami Lake and Norita sites. Once the MLM reserves had been exhausted, the concentrator continued to treat ore from other nearby mines as well as the tailings of the Abcourt mine between 1985 and 1990.
The Isle-Dieu mine started up in 1989 and remained in operation until 1997.
In 1995–1996, a new tailings dam was built to create an additional pond where tailings were deposited from 1995 onward.
The Isle-Dieu mine closed in late 1997, and concentrator operations were suspended until the Bell-Allard mine opened in June 1998.
Work on the tailings site in 2002 made it possible to increase its capacity. Tailings were routed into this section between 2003 and February 2015.
When the Bell-Allard mine was closed in November 2004, the concentrator was put on “inactive” status until the Perseverance mine started production in May 2008. During this three-and-a-half-year period, the concentrator was used solely to manage and treat surface runoff water from the MLM and Orchan sites.
Development work at the Perseverance mine began in fall 2006, with commercial production kicking off on July 1, 2008. Operation ended in May 2013. Underground backfill operations were ongoing until March 2014.
The Bracemac-McLeod deposit was discovered in 2007. Development work commenced in the first quarter of 2010, and commercial production was up and running by May 2013. The tailings site was divided up once again, this time to accommodate the waste generated by the Bracemac-McLeod mine.
In 2010, a new lens, known as the McLeod Deep lens, was discovered. Mining of this deposit began in 2018 and will wrap up in June 2022.