Located along the Trans-Canada Highway, on the northeast shore of Lake Superior, the Marathon Palladium-Copper Project is anticipated to be an environmentally sensitive, low-cost producer of critical minerals needed to support emissions controls and the transition to a greener economy.
Developing the Marathon Project will involve the construction, operation, decommissioning and remediation of three open pits to produce copper concentrate consisting primarily of copper, palladium and platinum. There will also be an on-site ore processing facility, a 115 kV transmission line, an access road, a mine rock storage area, a process solids management facility and a water management system, among other infrastructure. The processing plant is expected to operate at approximately 9.2 million tonnes of ore per year and produce roughly 87,000 tonnes of copper-concentrate annually.
In the 42 months since Generation Mining first acquired interest in the Marathon Project, the company has advanced it towards becoming the next greenfield critical minerals mine in Canada by preparing a feasibility study and 43-101 technical report. Generation Mining also obtained federal and provincial government environmental assessment approvals, entered into agreements with affected Indigenous communities, including the community benefits agreement with the Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nation (BNFN), and advanced significant financing arrangements to fund construction of the mine. The community benefits agreement between Generation PGM (Generation Mining’s wholly owned subsidiary) and BNFN describes the benefits the BNFN community will receive from the project, as well as details how its impact will be mitigated. It includes commitments from the company regarding environmental management, employment, training and education, business opportunities, social and cultural support and financial participation.
In March 2022, Generation PGM received the first of two $20-million payments from the precious metal purchase agreement with Wheaton. Under the terms of the agreement, Wheaton will pay Generation PGM $240 million in return for a stream on all gold production and 22 per cent of platinum production from the Marathon Project.
In July 2022, Generation Mining announced an agreement with Valard Equipment LP for the lease of a construction camp located in Marathon, Ont. with an option to purchase the camp. The camp will be used to accommodate up to 286 workers throughout the construction phase. Additional accommodation capacity will be secured for the Marathon Project as construction ramps up to the maximum peak of approximately 1,000 workers. The camp has all the required infrastructure services, including a commercial kitchen, a recreation facility, a maintenance facility and management offices. BNFN will operate and service the camp as part of Generation PGM’s commitments to BNFN under the community benefits agreement.
In August 2022, the company entered into an agreement with Hycroft Mining Holding Corporation for the purchase of an unused, surplus SAG mill and ball mill. The agreement for the mills reduced risks with the procurement, logistics and cost-uncertainty associated with some of the long-lead items for the project.
September 2022 saw receipt of the second $20-million payment from Wheaton. During construction of the Marathon Project, the remaining $200 million will be payable in four stages of installments which are subject to various customary conditions precedent being satisfied.
The Marathon Project was approved by the joint federal and provincial environmental assessment process in November 2022. The joint review panel was established in 2021 to review the environmental impact statement (EIS) of the Marathon Palladium-Copper Project, as well as to conduct public hearings that enable Generation Mining to outline and explain the key elements of the Marathon Project while answering questions from government agencies, non-government organizations, local and regional communities and Indigenous groups. The process followed a thorough, multi-year, joint federal and provincial environmental assessment process, with input received from Indigenous groups, the public and federal government departments, including the Ministry of Environment Canada and Climate Change, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Natural Resources Canada and Transport Canada, as well as provincial government departments, including Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry, the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of Labour and the Technical Standards and Safety Authority. The company may now proceed to obtain the necessary permits for construction and operation.
The decision statement and approval order included conditions on such matters as ongoing consultation, follow-up programs, reporting, information sharing, fish and fish habitat, migratory birds, wildlife, greenhouse gas emissions, health and socio-economic conditions of Indigenous peoples, the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes and reclamation, amongst other things. The company continues to work to satisfy any pre-construction condition(s) and ensure compliance with the conditions needed to advance construction and operations of the Marathon Project.