Zinc discovery restores 26 jobs

More than two dozen previously laid off Empire State Mine employees were able to return to work following the Nov. 21 announcement of the discovery of several near-surface zinc veins. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

BALMAT — The discovery of a new payload of zinc has resulted in previously laid off miners returning to work at Empire State Mines.

The new discovery of zinc was announced in a Nov. 21 news release from Titan Mining Corporation, the parent company of Empire State Mines.

According to the release, the discovery came following surface drilling focused on two recently identified, near-surface zinc targets near Vanderbilt Minerals, approximately one mile south of the Empire State Mine and milling complex at 408 Sylvia Lake Road, Gouverneur.

And with that discovery came more than two dozen new jobs, according to Titan’s Vice President, Investor Relations and Strategic Analysis Jacqueline Allison, who confirmed that 26 employees who had been among the previously laid off 108 were rehired, with a total of 107 people working for Empire State Mines.

Fowler Town Supervisor Michael J. Capellino said while the news is good, he is cautiously optimistic.

“Since they closed down the first time, I approach things cautiously,” Mr. Capellino said. “Now the current people, Titan, they hired a bunch of people and they had to lay them off about a year ago.”

But he said he still carries with him a level of confidence that Titan and Empire State Mines will continue to work on finding minerals and build the mines back up.

The zinc discovered was of a high grade, 12 percent, Mr. Capellino said.

“Everybody here in the town is anxious to see it move forward,” Mr. Capellino said. “One of the things that we all need to watch is the zinc prices on the global market. About the time that Titan talked about purchasing the mines, about two years ago, I read that, globally, there were four major zinc mines that were going to close in the next four years, so that is kind of what I have been following. That will be the indicator.”

Moreover, he pointed out that the company has been digging and exploring the area, demonstrating they were invested in the community, Mr. Capellino said.

Last March, Scott Burkett, Titan’s vice president of exploration, told the St. Lawrence County legislature the company was going to invest $2 million this year exploring for deposits at its Empire State Mine site and in neighboring towns.

That plan was in hopes of bringing back some of the layoffs.

St. Lawrence County IDA CFO Patrick J. Kelly said he was aware of the exploratory drilling and said anytime there is any finding of a potential resource in the area that can be developed, it’s positive for the area.

“One of our assets in St. Lawrence County is our range of natural resources, agriculture, timber or, in this case, minerals,” Mr. Kelly said. “Any private activity and investment that results in utilizing these resources to employ people is positive for the region ... and if they can find additional mineral deposits it’s exciting for us.”

In the Nov. 21 news release announcing the zinc discovery, Titan Chief Executive Officer Donald R. Taylor said the corporation believes the several identified near-surface targets at the mine site and in the district present an opportunity for Empire State Mines to add low-cost near-term production.

Mr. Taylor said the zinc will be able to be extracted by open-pit mining, as opposed to some of the company’s extractive measures of tunneling into the earth, where miners take elevator shafts underground.

“The zones have good continuity along strike as well as at depth and contain higher grade zinc mineralization interbedded with lower grade lenses that can be accessed through open pit mining,” he wrote in the statement. “The current drill program will allow us to evaluate the zones quickly for potential mining.”

He said existing permits allow for open pit mining and the Empire State Mines will work with regulators to determine if any additional studies are required.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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