News in briefs
New shaft hoisting ore at Lac des Iles
North American Palladium Ltd. has begun hoisting material through the new shaft at its Lac des Iles palladium mine in northwesternern Ontario. The production, service and auxiliary hoists are now fully operational and the skipping system has been successfully tested with full loads of material.
The complete commissioning of the shaft ore handling system, including the crusher and loading pocket, was slated for completion in October, following which production was expected to be predominately transitioned from ramp to shaft haulage. This will effectively mark the completion of the mine’s phase one expansion, enabling the company to benefit from increased production at a reduced cash cost per ounce.
North American Palladium plans to increase its underground mining production rate to over 3,000 tonnes per day from the underground Offset Zone during the fourth quarter, with plans to further increase the daily mining rate in 2014.
The new production shaft is approximately 825 metres deep with a maximum hoisting capacity of 8,000 tonnes per day, which will eliminate the production bottleneck caused by the long truck haulage system. The shaft is six metres in diameter and concrete-lined, with a conventional back leg headframe.
Phase II of the shaft expansion is being deferred in favour of other lower cost opportunities to expand production to 250,000 ounces by 2015.
Vale, Glencore rumoured to be exploring Sudbury combination
Media reports circulating since October have Glencore Xstrata and Vale in discussions about combining their nickel mining operations in the Sudbury Basin, although neither company has issued confirmation.
The original Reuters news item quoted “sources familiar with the situation” saying “discussions are still at an early stage but have revived hopes of a long debated Sudbury tie-up, with the companies considering a number of options for their mining and processing operations in the area.”
When previous owners Inco and Falconbridge flirted with a merger in 2006, estimated savings of more than $500 million a year were expected from the expected synergies.
The Reuters report said “talks restarted after Glencore completed its acquisition of Xstrata earlier this year…against the backdrop of a nickel price that has fallen by around a fifth since January to around four-year lows, weighed down by over-supply.”
Goldcorp power initiative wins more First Nation buy-in
Five more First Nation communities have joined Wataynikaneyap Power, bringing the number of First Nation communities participating in the transmission line joint venture with Goldcorp to 18.
The goal is to connect remote communities to the provincial power grid and provide more reliable power to communities and companies already connected.
Watay Power plans to upgrade a 300-kilometre transmission line to Pickle Lake and then extend the line to serve remote communities currently dependent on burning diesel.
The existing 300-kilometre line serves Goldcorp’s Musselwhite Mine, but is vulnerable to frequent outages.
Watay Power has signed a memorandum of understanding with AECOM to build the new transmission line.
“Our goal is the grid connection of remote communities and the elimination of dependency on diesel generation,” said Margaret Kenequanash, chair of Watay Power. “There are many health, safety, and environmental concerns with diesel generation, and it does not meet the needs of our communities. Grid connection will change that, and our partnership will provide the necessary expertise to move this important infrastructure project forward.”
New Gold completes acquisition of Rainy River
New Gold Inc. has successfully completed its acquisition of Rainy River Resources Ltd.
“We are pleased to have completed the acquisition of Rainy River and look forward to advancing it through the various stages of development,” said Randall Oliphant, executive chairman.
The company is in the process of completing its detailed review and update of the Rainy River feasibility study as well as advancing the permitting efforts for the project.
New Gold is an intermediate gold mining company with a portfolio of four producing assets and three development projects. The New Afton Mine in Canada, the Cerro San Pedro Mine in Mexico, the Mesquite Mine in the United States and the Peak Mines in Australia provide the company with its current production base. In addition to the Rainy River project, New Gold owns 100 per cent of the Blackwater project in British Columbia, as well as 30 per cent of the El Morro project in Chile.
Lonmin commits $3.1million for exploration on Wallbridge JVs
Lonmin Plc has committed to fund $3.1 million to explore for platinum group elements, copper, nickel and gold on the Sudbury Camp and North Range joint ventures with Wallbridge Mining. Exploration will include drilling and geophysics.
“Following last year’s encouraging field program, Lonmin looks forward to continuing to support and work with Wallbridge on its portfolio of prospective properties around the Sudbury Basin,” said Albert Jamieson, Lonmin’s chief commercial officer responsible for exploration.
Work on the Sudbury Camp JV is focusing mainly on Wallbridge’s Trill and Skynner Lake properties.
The Trill property is located on the western rim of the Sudbury Basin, about 12 kilometres northwest of Vale’s Totten mine and KGHM International’s Victoria project and 600 metres west of Vale’s Trill and Trill Depth Ni-Cu-PGE deposits.
The Trill offset dyke was found by Wallbridge and Lonmin in 2005.
Wallbridge’s Skynner Lake property is located on the East Range of the Sudbury Basin, 2.5 kilometres north of Vale’s Victor-Capre mine development project. The Skynner Lake property is being explored for footwall style Cu-PGE mineralization, similar to that at Victor-Capre and Nickel Rim South.
On the North Range Joint Venture, the partners are searching for offset style massive sulfide Ni-Cu-PGE mineralization similar to that at Vale’s Totten and Copper Cliff mines.
The 2014 program will include ground based EM geophysics surveys to follow-up several areas of Ni-Cu-PGE mineralization identified at surface. This will be followed by drilling and borehole geophysics to test the targets for Ni-Cu-PGEs.
Lake Shore Gold increases gold production
Lake Shore Gold Corp. reported total gold sales of 32,300 ounces at an average price of US$1,324 per ounce for the third quarter of 2013. Gold produced during the third quarter totaled 28,300 ounces, an increase of 35 per cent from the third quarter of 2012. Mill throughput during the third quarter of 2013 totaled 202,300 tonnes at an average grade of 4.6 g/t with average mill recoveries of 95.2 per cent. Of the 202,300 tonnes processed, 148,400 tonnes grading 4.9 g/t was from Timmins West Mine, 42,600 tonnes grading 4.2 g/t was from Bell Creek and 11,300 tonnes grading 1.6 g/t was from low-grade material mined in previous years that was processed during the commissioning of the company’s mill expansion.
The mill expansion has increased capacity from 2,000 tonnes per day to over 3,000 t/d. Mill throughput during September exceeded target levels for the expanded milling operations, averaging 3,370 t/d.
For the first nine months of 2013, 630,900 tonnes were processed at an average grade of 4.3 g/t for 82,300 ounces of gold production.
“Looking forward, we are well positioned for a strong finish to 2013 and to achieve our key targets for the year,” said Tony Makuch, president and CEO of Lake Shore Gold. “A great deal of hard work and significant capital investment has gone into advancing Lake Shore Gold to the point we have now reached. We are looking forward to reaping the benefits of what has been accomplished.”
Porcupine Group wins president’s praise
Goldcorp Inc. has reported adjusted third quarter revenues of $1.2 billion, generating adjusted net earnings of $190 million, compared to $441 million in the third quarter of 2012.
“Operations throughout our portfolio performed as planned during the third quarter and we remain on track to achieve our annual production and cost guidance,” said Chuck Jeannes, Goldcorp president and CEO. “Most importantly, our focus on operational discipline and cost containment delivered positive results. Most of our mines saw meaningful reductions in costs compared to the previous quarter, with particularly impressive improvement at some of our higher-cost operations such as Porcupine in Ontario.”
Gold sales in the third quarter were 652,100 ounces.
At the company’s Red Lake complex in northwestern Ontario, gold production for the third quarter was 97,000 ounces at an all-in sustaining cost of $986 per ounce and $640 per ounce on a by-product basis. Gold production during the quarter was lower than the second quarter of 2013 due to mining lower grade blocks and the planned commencement of de-stress work. However, the company reported that Red Lake remains on track to meet gold production guidance for the year of between 475,000 and 510,000 ounces.
The haulage drift to the Bruce Channel deposit has now advanced to 80 per cent completion.
At Goldcorp’s Porcupine Gold Mines (PGM) unit in Timmins, gold production in the third quarter increased to 76,000 ounces at an all-in sustaining cost of $921 per ounce and $637 per ounce on a by-product basis. These are the lowest costs at PGM since the fourth quarter of 2011. The Hoyle Pond underground operation experienced similar grades on 7 per cent lower tonnage due to the optimization of long-hole sequencing to remove marginal tonnes. The Dome underground operation experienced 61per cent higher grades and 18 per cent lower tonnage due to optimization of the mining sequence. Material reclaimed from stockpile provided 22 per cent higher tonnage due to higher mill throughput.
PGM’s Hollinger pit project continues to be delayed pending final permitting. The environmental compliance approval was expected to be issued by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment in the fourth quarter of 2013. On-site work focused on remediation of critical voids and reverse circulation drilling to define ore limits prior to mining. A revised mine plan has been developed to support an economic project at lower gold prices.
Atlas Copco wins international design award for rig control system
The new Atlas Copco Rig Control System, RCS 5, and its interface design earned a bronze award in the digital design category at the 2013 International Design Excellence Award (IDEA) competition.
The IDEA competition was established in 1980 and ranks among the preeminent international design competitions.
RCS 5 is a hardware and software interface solution designed for drill rigs. As the primary connection between the rig and the operator, the RCS 5 assists in monitoring and controlling the rig and enables hands-on or remote control operation. The system also logs events, error or status information for future analysis.
The interface is designed to accommodate different scenarios such as ambidextrousness or color blindness of the operator and variable light conditions. By incorporating self-explanatory symbols, the RCS 5 can be used globally.
Operators navigate using a 15-inch touch screen display and two multifunctional joysticks control drilling. Primary functions for drilling are grouped together on the top of the controller. The joysticks allow the operator to focus on drilling instead of searching for functions on the keyboard or display.
Atlas Copco is the first company in the mining industry to receive a design award for a control system.
Nordex Explosives expands to supply Buttbuster product
Nordex Explosives Ltd. of Kirkland Lake has constructed a new production facility with full manufacturing capabilities for its ButtBuster Perimeter Control products.
The production facility can crank out over 120 cases per shift to meet the high demand of this product in underground and surface blasting situations.
“The ButtBuster product is well-known in the mining and construction industries, and has been difficult to obtain in North America until now,” said Jim Taylor, CEO of Nordex Explosives. “We are pleased to make this announcement after over five years of development. The demand for this particular product, because of its high quality and known safety benefits, is huge. We were reluctant to begin full distribution before now because we would not have been able to keep up to expected demands without the proper production facilities in place.”
Nordex Explosives has exclusive rights for manufacturing and distributing the ButtBuster product.
Originally developed by Johnex Explosives of Australia, the ButtBuster product is highly sought after for its ease of use, cost effectiveness, improvement in ground control safety and associated reductions in potential rockfall situations.
Timmins Kidd Operations wins President’s Award from Workplace Safety North
Glencore Xstrata’s Kidd Operation in Timmins has won Workplace Safety North’s President’s Award for its contribution to building safe and healthy workplaces in Ontario.
“Everyone’s really proud of the win,” said Tom Semadeni, general manager of Kidd Operations. “It’s really icing on the cake because earlier this year we won the John T. Ryan national safety trophy for the best safety performance for a Canadian metal mine.
“I think it’s great to promote success in the area of safety. A lot of times, businesses have a tendency to notice and follow up on things that are going badly or wrong, but you need to recognize success, not only internally, but also publicly.
“We’re the deepest base metal mine in the world and that creates its own set of challenges… with logistics, transportation and supervision of people over vast distances.
“There are two aspects of benchmarking that are important,” noted Semadeni. “One is that you should be improving relative to yourself. Sometimes it is difficult to compare yourself to others because every operation is different. So I think the aspect of the award where you need to demonstrate year-on-year improvement is important because the most important thing is to be able to prove to yourself that you are improving your own operation. The rest of the world moves around and you can’t control that, but you can control your own destiny, your own operation.
“Changing human behaviour and changing our habits are hard,” added Semadeni. “It takes a lot of hard work to improve safety, so I think a validation of that work is a great feeling. It’s a great source of pride when you can see that all your hard work is paying off.”
Noront announces appointment of president and CEO
Noront Resources Ltd. has announced the appointment of Alan Coutts as president and CEO.
Coutts is a mining executive with over 25 years of experience in all aspects of exploration, feasibility, construction and production of mineral deposits. He has worked both domestically and abroad in a variety of roles and across multiple commodities. Most recently, he was managing director of Xstrata Nickel Australasia based in Perth, Australia. Prior to that he served as general manager at the Brunswick Mine in Canada.
Noront Resources is focused on the development of its high-grade Eagle’s Nest nickel, copper, platinum and palladium deposit and the high-grade Blackbird chromite deposit, both of which are located in the James Bay Lowlands of Ontario in the Ring of Fire.