Barrick to switch to underground only at Hemlo with contract mining

Gold mining operations at Hemlo in Ontario, Canada are being modernised and refocused to secure the gold mine’s continued viability, Barrick Gold Corporation recently announced. Hemlo consists of the Williams mine – an underground and open pit operation – located about 350 km east of Thunder Bay. Several programs have been introduced to improve its performance and the next step will be to phase out the open pit operation and move to an underground contract mining model.

The objective is to upgrade Hemlo to a Barrick Tier 2 asset and extend its Life of Mine well into the future. Hemlo has a significant degree of autonomy in its fleet including trucks and LHDs from Sandvik and Epiroc so it will be interesting to see how this aspect of the operation transitions to contract mining and if the current autonomous mining focus will remain or not.

Barrick’s Chief Operating Officer for North America, Catherine Raw, said over the past 34 years Hemlo had been a significant creator of value for its local community, business partners and workforce.  Recently, however, its performance had lagged, highlighting the need for remedial action. “By repositioning Hemlo as a smaller but more profitable business, we are ensuring that it will continue to deliver value to its community, employees and other stakeholders for years to come.  A longer sustainable mine life will create longer-term employment opportunities and longer-term benefit sharing with the local community and economy,” she said.

“Because of the move to contract mining and the introduction of new technology, we are inviting the majority of employees working underground to participate in a voluntary separation program. We have already met with these employees to inform them about the program and to assure them that they will be treated fairly and with respect for their service to the mine.”