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Wildfires in Quebec force mining companies to suspend work and pull staff out

A man looks over at the Port of Montreal on Monday, June 5, 2023. A smog warning is in effect for Montreal and multiple regions of the province due to forest fires. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi

TORONTO — Mining companies in Quebec pulled employees out and suspended exploration work as forest fires forced thousands of people from their homes.

Wallbridge Mining Company Ltd. said Monday it has temporarily evacuated the camp at its Fenelon Gold project and suspended all exploration activities on its Detour-Fenelon Gold Trend property in Quebec’s northern Abitibi region.

The company made the decision after an emergency order from the Quebec government prohibiting access due to the forest fires.

Wallbridge CEO Marz Kord said all of the company's employees and contractors have been safely withdrawn and that it has worked to secure and mitigate risk to the Fenelon camp site.

"Exploration activities at Fenelon and our other projects will resume as soon as practicable," Kord said in a statement.

There were 164 forest fires burning in Quebec on Monday, up from 155 the day before.

At least 114 of those fires were out of control, according to the province’s forest fire prevention service, SOPFEU.

Osisko Mining Inc. said it has suspended work and pulled workers out at its Windfall gold project due to the forest fire situation affecting the communities in Abitibi and Eeyou Istchee James Bay.

"Our team is in constant communication with local and provincial authorities to co-ordinate all efforts in this difficult time," Osisko Mining chief executive John Burzynski said in a statement.

"All personnel are safe, and the Windfall facilities are secure. While all activities at site are currently suspended, we do not anticipate any material impact on our business."

Meanwhile, Patriot Battery Metals Inc. said it temporarily ceased drilling and surface exploration field activities until the forest fire situation near its operations in Quebec improves.

The company started work in late May at its Corvette property in the Eeyou Istchee James Bay region.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2023.

Companies in this story: (TSX:WM, TSX:OSK)

The Canadian Press

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