Significant progress is being made at IAMGOLD’s Côté gold project in northeastern Ontario, where IAMGOLD is the majority owner and operator and 27.75% is held by Sumitomo Metal Mining. It has a mine life of 18 years, and will produce an average of 365,000 oz/y and 495,000 oz/y in years 1 to 6. Some 236 Mt of ore will be mined, and 568 Mt of waste, with an average processed grade of 0.96 g/t.
Autonomous operations have been incorporated into the mine design with a focus on early operations readiness. The Autonomous Control Room equipped for Caterpillar Command for hauling was completed in mid-September and the project achieved a major milestone in January with the initial deployment of the autonomous 231 t Cat 793F CMD haul trucks working with Toromont Cat. On January 22 the mine saw the safe operation of a full load, haul, and dump cycle using autonomous dump trucks.
Autonomy will not be limited to the trucks – six autonomous Epiroc Pit Viper 231 blasthole drill rigs are being deployed, complemented by two Epiroc D65 SmartROC crawler rigs, which will be remote operation ready. In addition it will deploy electric Caterpillar hydraulic shovels – namely two 6060FS units, AC-powered via tethered cable.
Heavy mobile equipment continues to arrive on site with 13 of the planned 23 autonomy equipped Cat 793F CMD haul trucks, two of three planned Cat 994 loaders and four D10 dozers having been delivered by the end of December 2022. Erection of tower bases for autonomous system also progressed with 12 towers in operation. The truck shop foundation and structural steel were completed.
Overall at the end of December, construction of the Côté project was approximately 73% complete and advancing well in line with the project and cost schedule. With approximately 1,600 workers currently on site, the project is nearing peak capacity and has seen significant progress in the first quarter of the year towards the production target of early 2024.