South32’s Hermosa project in Arizona, USA, continues to make progress, and recently provided updates on the latest developments in construction, efforts to support local workforce development and benchmarking community health metrics to support future sustainability and safety initiatives.
The feasibility study and an independent peer review for Hermosa’s Taylor deposit is on track for completion by the end of the month, with a final investment decision in the March 2024 quarter.
Pre-sink activities for both shafts remain on track, with 50 ft (15 m) excavated for the main exploration shaft and 115 ft excavated for a ventilation shaft. This construction will allow the creation of infrastructure needed for safe passage of people and vehicles underground, while total depth of the shafts will be approximately 2,900 ft (884 m).
Taylor will use tele-remote semi-autonomous mucking for production stopes, including for development prior to production mining, South32 says. This will enable operation from the remote operating centre and would ‘engineer out’ vehicle and pedestrian interactions in the production mining area.
The project is also looking to make use of other advanced mining methods such as dry stack tailings, advanced process control, and the use of ore sensing and ore sorting, the company added.
Hermosa Vice President Project Delivery, Andy Thompson, said: “This advanced, underground mining method enables reduced surface impact and the amount of tailings resulting in a more sustainable mine.”
The South32 Hermosa Workforce Development Taskforce has been formed to identify the skills needed and local facilities available to help train, develop and expand the region’s workforce. The taskforce enables the Hermosa team to work with local education experts to develop a clear pathway for training local residents to fill skilled jobs at Hermosa, South32 says.
Skylie Estep, Human Resources Director North America, said “The first step in helping transform the local economy is partnering with community members whose expertise and understanding of our region’s educational needs can help create opportunities, so that the next generation can stay in Santa Cruz County.”
South32 says the Hermosa team has engaged Ramboll, a global consulting firm, to guide a baseline community health assessment and outreach to local public health institutions.
“Protecting the health of our workforce and the local community is our priority, and partnering with third-party public health organisations to regularly monitor and report findings ensures transparency and accountability on this critical metric,” the company said.
A baseline assessment will help Hermosa team to understand what levels of manganese and other minerals already exist in the community and environment, it said. By conducting this assessment before operations begin, the company says it can make sure health and safety controls are in place, better understand any changes over time, and ensure controls remain effective throughout the life of the project.