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Rainy River Mine makes the production plunge underground

Contractors blast first stope in Intrepid Zone as operation recovers from spring flooding
New Gold Rainy River Intrepid Zone development
New Gold's Intrepid Zone at its Rainy River Mine (Company photo)

New Gold is making the gradual transition from open pit to underground mining at its Rainy River Mine, northwest of Fort Frances.

The Toronto gold company said the first stope at its Intrepid Zone was blasted on Sept. 13, a significant milestone in its operating life. Ramping up of underground operations will take place over the next few months.

In a Sept. 15 news release, New Gold said underground mine development advanced 548 metres during July and August. The main decline ramp reaching the 200-metre level, ahead of schedule.

The operation has recovered from a drastic fall in production in the open pit following heavy rainfall and flooding experienced around the Fort Frances area during this year’s second quarter.

In a statement, company president-CEO Renaud Adams said the operation has rebounded very well. After a summer of dewatering, mining at the bottom of the pit is “back on track.”

"Over the past month, efforts continued on dewatering the pit along with additional operational improvements to position the open pit to its optimal conditions.” he said.

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In July and August, the company said Rainy River produced approximately 41,000 gold ounces and looks on track to meet its gold production target of 230,000 to 250,000 ounces for this year. The average tonnes of ore mined per day from the pit during July and August increased 70 per cent - to 21,000 tonnes - from the 12,295 tonnes moved during this year’s second quarter.

The company said approximately 2.4 million tonnes are left to be mined, beginning in the fourth quarter.

The Rainy River Mine is in the Emo area, 65 kilometres northwest of Fort Frances.

The pit's life is expected to last until 2025. The development of the Intrepid Zone will extend the overall mine life to 2031.