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(Kitco News) - Commercial gold production from another of Quebec’s Plan Nord project is expected to begin in July 2012 as junior miner Metanor Resources Inc. (TSXV: MTO.V)(OTC: MEAOF.PK)(Frankfurt: M3R.F) works towards their first pour at their Bachelor Lake property in Northern Quebec.

“This is going to be a Quebec success story,” said Ronald Perry, vice-president and treasurer of Metanor. “This is good news for Plan Nord and we’re proud to be included in Plan Nord.”

Quebec’s Plan Nord project, announced May 9, 2011, has mining firms and the Quebec government investing $80 billion over 25 years to mine gold, diamonds, copper, molybdenum, rare-earths, nickel, lithium and uranium in northern Quebec.

“We’re preparing for a bulk sample, then we’re going to update the pre-feasibility to feasibility and start producing in the second-quarter and ramp up to full commercial production of 5,000 ounces of a gold a month in the third quarter,” Perry said.

Metanor expects to produce a total of 60,000 ounces in the first six months of production operating at two-thirds capacity. Total measured and indicated resources stood at 643,826 metric tons graded at 7.96 grams per ton gold totaling 164,815 ounces of gold. Total inferred resources were 207,517 metric tons graded at 6.76 g/t gold totaling 45,083 ounces of gold.

The Bachelor Lake mine, located 225 kilometers north of Val D’Or in the township of Le Sueur, was initially in operation during the 1980’s until the early 1990’s when it dropped, forcing Bachelor Lake, and several other mines, to shut down.

Metanor purchased the mine and began refurbishing it towards milling and production during the course of 2010.

“Over time we’ve been upgrading the mill,” Perry said. “We sank the shaft another 536 feet, we had to refurbish the mill and we had to do a lot of rehabilitation.”

Access to Bachelor Lake has not been a problem as highway 113 leads to the mine uninterrupted and the area is also electrically sound with hydro-electric power lines along the way.

Other Plan Nord companies and the Quebec government have invested heavily in extending roads, namely route 167 for which the government pledged $278 million to a 250 kilometer extension north of Chibougamau.

Creating Work For Locals

While gold production is around the corner for Metanor, the company maintained a culture and focus on creating and keeping jobs locally.

The company currently employs 170 people and Perry expects that number to grow to 200 by this summer.

Bachelor Lake is located near the Cree community of Waswanipi. Part of the Plan Nord’s promise to First Nation communities when the project was being created and launched was that there would be job opportunities created for First Nation communities from the influx of construction to create mines, roads, and homes.  

Perry believes Metanor established the local culture on its own as the company began operating before Plan Nord came into effect.

“Our head office is located in Val D’Or,” Perry said. “We’re taking people from Chibougamau, from Val D’Or, we have members of the First Nation that work with us as well.

“Our accountants, our lawyers, we try and keep it local. Metanor provides an opportunity for everyone in the area. We’re like a big family.”

The Plan Nord project boasts some mining giants to the tune of Goldcorp, Agnico-Eagle, Rio Tinto, Xstrata, ArcelorMittal and IAMGOLD, the junior miner from Quebec describes itself as the little guy that doesn’t give up.

“We’re the little engine that could,” Perry said. “And we’re going to keep chugging along.”

By Alex Létourneau of Kitco News aletourneau@kitco.com

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