FLIN FLON — From humble beginnings to the international spotlight, there has never been a mine quite like Trout Lake.
After more than three decades, hundreds of grime-charred men and untold millions in profits, the landmark mine ended its remarkable run last week.
It is remembered for far more than the 24 million tons of ore hauled from its dark, foreboding tunnels. In its time, Trout Lake was arguably one of the most famous mines in the world.
When a copper-zinc deposit was discovered beside Trout Lake, just east of Flin Flon, in 1976, the enthusiasm was palpable yet tempered. Flin Flon-based Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting, now known as Hudbay, forecast a tidy profit from a mine expected to last just five years.
Production began in December 1981, feeding ore to a metallurgical plant a few kilometres down Highway 10A. Ongoing exploration would stretch out the life of the mine as the initial five, 10, 15 and then 20 years passed.
And it was 20 years on that Trout Lake gained global notoriety mixed with a dash of controversy.
In 2001, within vacant space in the mine, a Saskatoon-based firm launched the nation’s first legal marijuana grow-op. Under contract to Health Canada, Prairie Plant Systems would supply chronically ill Canadians with safe subterranean weed to ease their pain.
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