The Macassa gold mine was in continuous production from 1933 until operations were suspended indefinitely in June 1999. The mine was the last of the seven major gold mines in Kirkland Lake to halt production.
The original mine was developed on 11 mining claims by Macassa Mines Ltd. that organized in 1926 and obtained the assets of United Kirkland Gold Mines Ltd., in 1933. In 1962 the company combined with Bicroft Uranium Mines Ltd., and Renabie Mines ltd., to become Macassa Gold Mines Ltd. Amalgamation in November 1970 with Willroy Mines Ltd., and Willecho Mines Ltd., created the parent company Little Long Lac Gold Mines, located in Toronto. Upper Canada Mines Ltd. optioned management rights from 1970 - 1976. In December 1982, the amalgamation of several groups, including Little Long Lac Gold Mines, created Lac Minerals Ltd. (Macassa Division). It was during this period that the Tegren property was added to the traditional Macassa property. In August 1994, Barrick Gold Corporation successfully took over Lac Minerals Ltd., and Kinross Gold Corporation acquired it from Barrick in May 1995.
The first shaft was the 500-foot Elliot shaft that was developed in the Main Break Zone in the late 1920’s. Mining was unsuccessful and operations halted. In 1931, development westward onto Macassa ground from the 2475-foot level of the Kirkland Lake Gold Mine discovered ore on the Main Break for 700 feet along strike and in subsidiary hangingwall veins. These underground workings were connected with the 3100 foot No.1 shaft, and later by two winzes to greater depths. The No. 1 winze connected the 3000-foot to 4625-foot levels and the No. 2 winze the 4625 to 6875 levels. The No. 2 shaft was sunk from surface to a depth of 4625 feet about 1000 feet southwest of the No. 1 shaft. In 1986, the No. 3 shaft was sunk from surface (in what had been Tegren ground) to the 7050-foot level and then to a final level of 7225 feet. Until the mid 1990’s this was the deepest single-lift shaft in the Western Hemisphere. The No. 3 shaft was the most recent access shaft, and gave access to 21 levels from 3800 feet to the 7050-foot level until 1997. As a result of a rock burst on April 12, 1997, only the levels between the 4250 and 5150 levels remained active. Exploration development was underway on the 3800 foot level when production was halted in 1999. Rehabilitation of levels down to the 5700’ level was in progress prior to closure.
Since active production began in 1933, until the end of 1988, more than 115 kilometers of underground drifting and cross-cutting had occurred on 51 levels/sub-levels (Kinross, 1996), and from the date of initial production until the end of 1997, well in excess of 500 km core were drilled.
The first mill began operation in October 1933 at a capacity of 200 tons per day. The milling rate was increased to 425 tons/day in 1949 and to 500-525 tons/day in 1956. In August 1988 a new mill was built which could process 500-600 tons of rock and 750 tons of tailings per day. By 1996, modifications had increased capacity to 900 tons of rock per day and 1,000 tons of tailings per day. At the time of closure in 1999, mill capacity was near 1,600 tons of rock per day, or 600 tons of rock and 1,400 tons of tailings per day. During 1998, the 3.5 millionth ounce was produced.
The above summary of the history of the Macassa Mine is taken from: STILL, A.C. 2001 Structural setting and controls of gold mineralization at the Macassa Mine, Kirkland Lake, Ontario. Unpublished Masters of Science Thesis, Queens University 151p.
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