The transition of Barrick Gold and Newmont Mining’s Turquoise Ridge gold mine (owned 75:25) in Nevada, US, to a Tier One operation is tracking to plan, the Canada-based miner said recently, with the Sandvik MR361 roadheader it took delivery of back in 2017 continuing to prove its worth.
Barrick said in its December quarter results that it is looking to increase production and resources at Turquoise Ridge through mechanisation, automation, and innovation.
The ramp up of the roadheader over 2018 improved safety, increased throughput, and dropped mining costs per tonne, the company said in its results statement. This has led to Barrick ordering a second roadheader, manufactured by Sandvik, which will be delivered to the operation later this year. On top of this, Barrick said it is evaluating the opportunity associated with increasing the level of mechanisation and automation for the operation.
Barrick already has extensive experience using Sandvik roadheaders, with the company having employed a MH620 unit at its Cortez gold mine, also in Nevada, US. Weighing 125 t and driven by a 300-kW cutting motor, the MH620 cutting the Range Front declines at Cortez is one of the world’s largest roadheaders.
Construction of a third shaft at Turquoise Ridge continues to advance according to schedule and within budget, Barrick said in the results statement, with efforts in 2019 focused on earthworks and shaft sinking.
“The construction of this shaft is expected to increase annual production to more than 500,000 oz/y (100% basis), at an average cost of sales of around $720/oz, and average all-in sustaining costs of roughly $630/oz,” Barrick said.
“As of December 31, we have spent $62 million (including $3 million in the December quarter of 2018) out of a total estimated capital cost of $300-$325 million (100% basis) on the construction of this shaft.”
Initial production from the new shaft is expected to begin in 2022, with sustained production from 2023.
Since the end of 2015, reserves at Turquoise Ridge have increased by 3.5 Moz (100% basis), primarily through driving down mining costs per tonne, which has allowed for a lower cutoff grade, thereby optimising the way the orebody is mined.
“The focus in 2019 is to realise the potential to further grow reserves, extend mine life, and grow production over and above the current mine plan, through reducing costs to further lower the cutoff grade, as well as extending mineralisation at depth,” Barrick said.