IAMGOLD on October 18 reported that heavy mobile equipment orders for owner mining had been placed with Cat dealer Toromont and Epiroc for its Côté Gold project in northeastern Ontario, adding that negotiations on autonomous technology agreements with Caterpillar, Toromont and Epiroc are well advanced. Epiroc had also detailed on October 15 the autonomous drill order outline in a statement. On October 19, IAMGOLD in a detailed Côté Gold Site Tour presentation, gave a full outline of the new fleet – which includes 23 Cat 793F CMD autonomous trucks and six autonomous Epiroc Pit Viper 231 blasthole drill rigs.
These machines are being complemented by two Epiroc D65 SmartROC crawler rigs, which are remote operation ready; plus two Caterpillar electric 6060FS hydraulic shovels, which are AC powered via tethered cable; and three large Cat 994K wheel loaders. Beyond these principal units, there is a large additional fleet from Cat which includes a 349F and two 395F excavators, six D10 dozers, two 844 wheeled dozers, two 745 ADTs plus a 980K cable handler. The services fleet includes two Cat 777 water/sand trucks, three 18M graders and two 740 fuel/lube truck.
The 231 t 793F CMD remains Caterpillar’s most commonly used autonomous truck model and is well proven across mutliple operations, especially in the Pilbara in Australia. It is a mechanical drive truck and is equipped with a Cat C175-16 quad turbocharged air-to-air aftercooled diesel engine that has enhanced power management capability for maximum hauling performance. The trucks will use the MineStar Cat Command for hauling autonomous system, which utilises high precision GPS, LiDAR and radar sensors and allows the trucks to operate fully autonomously, working safely around other manned equipment, light vehicles and personnel.
Today’s CMD trucks have a lot of onboard computing power allowing them to make independent decisions without having to wait for controller input, especially relating to obstacle avoidance. IAMGOLD said its trucks for Côté Gold are Command-ready from the factory with a full command upgrade package fitted onsite with only minor installation changes from the base 793F CMD machine. All the Epiroc PV-231 drills are also Autonomous Drilling System (ADS) ready from the factory.
Mining activities on site are proceeding well, according to IAMGOLD with pre-stripping work (open pit drilling, blasting and crushing activities) in the pit continuing throughout the quarter. Mining activities have already reached elevation 382, originally targeted to be achieved by year end. The first ore blast was taken in October 2021.
Côté Gold is a 70:30 joint venture between IAMGOLD, as the operator, and Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd. Gordon Stothart, President and CEO of IAMGOLD, stated in the October 18 update: “The current reported results, to be incorporated in the 2021 Technical Report, confirm Côté Gold as a long-life, low-cost, tier 1 asset that, over the first full five years of production, is expected to deliver an average of 316,600 ounces of gold to IAMGOLD annually. The development of Côté Gold and its addition to our portfolio as our flagship mine is key to helping transform the company into a lower cost producer with a diverse asset base in established mining jurisdictions.” He added that the satellite Gosselin deposit 1.5 km to the northeast has initial mineral resources estimate of 3.35 Moz of gold in indicated resources and an additional 1.71 Moz of gold in inferred resources which further demonstrate the district scale potential of Côté Gold and the opportunity to further enhance the project’s value through continued exploration.