Tag Archives: Barrick Gold

Barrick to bid goodbye to Hemlo open pit as Barminco ramps up UG activities

Barrick Gold says plans to extend the life of the Hemlo gold mine, in Ontario, Canada, by transitioning it to a modernised Tier Two asset with a purely underground operation are well underway as open-pit mining at the mine starts winding down.

The Hemlo open pit has been mined since 1989 and has produced over 2.8 Moz of gold in the process. It was originally used to produce blasted rock for the backfilling of the mine’s underground stopes but, in 2002, a Cat 777 truck fleet and key personnel were seconded from Barrick’s Nevada mines to establish the pit as a separate division.

In 2013, the David Bell mine closed, leaving the open pit and the Williams underground mine as the chief sources of ore for the mill feed. Over the next six years, the open pit ramped up and became the primary source of ore for Hemlo.

With mining at the open pit scheduled to wind down at the end of this month with less than 200,000 t of ore remaining, a transition plan has been put in place to transfer most of the 70 plus open-pit employees to the current underground contractor, Barminco. The open-pit crew has already worked with the contractor in digging a new portal from within the open pit that will open up new mining fronts in the underground mine, creating more flexibility and allowing the underground to ramp up throughput.

Catherine Raw, Chief Operating Officer for North America, said that by repositioning and expanding Hemlo as an underground operation, it would continue delivering benefits to the community, employees and other stakeholders for years to come.

Barrick Hemlo’s General Manager, Adam Foulstone, thanked the open-pit employees for their years of dedication and hard work.

“It’s been a great run and I am honoured to have worked with such a great team,” he said. “The last years of the mine were very challenging but we completed the work with zero lost time injuries, a testament to the commitment and professionalism of our people.”

The mine held a dedication ceremony on October 5 to unveil the new portal sign honouring long-serving employee, Jim Harasym. Harasym is the Open Pit Manager at the Hemlo mine and was instrumental in the success of the project.

Skeena Resources signs up Ausenco, SRK and AGP for Eskay Creek PFS

Skeena Resources is to commence a prefeasibility study (PFS) on its Eskay Creek gold-silver project in the Golden Triangle of northwest British Columbia, Canada.

The goal of the PFS is to de-risk Eskay Creek, while developing an appropriate execution strategy to ensure fast-tracked development towards commercial production, Skeena says.

Given the success of the team that developed the preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for Eskay Creek, Skeena says it will once again partner with Ausenco Engineering Canada, SRK Consulting, and AGP Mining Consultants to complete the PFS. The target completion date for the PFS is summer 2021.

This PEA envisaged a high-grade open-pit mine producing a life of mine average of 236,000 oz/y of gold and 5.81 Moz of at all-in sustaining costs (including by products) of $615/oz gold recovered. It would involve a 6,850 t/d mill and flotation plant producing a saleable concentrate.

Shane Williams, Skeena’s new Chief Operating Officer, said: “I am very excited to be joining the Skeena team at this transitional stage in the company’s history. The PFS is the next step in the evolution of Eskay Creek as we move this high-grade, open-pit project towards development and through to commercial production.”

A key work program as part of the development of the PFS will be an extensive infill drilling program to convert a large portion of the inferred resources into the measured and indicated category and following completion of the PFS, declare maiden reserves for Eskay Creek, Skeena said.

The company said: “Following the completion of the Eskay Creek PEA in 2019, several areas were identified that could be optimised and enhanced with further work. This includes optimising the metallurgy and the concentrate quality and to better optimise the flowsheet.

“Another focus area will be to gain a better understanding of the geotechnical characteristics in the open pit, which will allow for further pit optimisation studies. Preparations and planning for these work programs are ongoing.”

Subject to the agreement with Barrick, upon exercise of the option to acquire a 100%-interest in Eskay Creek, the company will enter the permitting process for the expanded Eskay Creek project, it said.

Skeena has already begun the environmental studies that are required for permitting and has initiated community engagement and consultation with Indigenous Nations.

Barrick continues to leverage automation and battery-electric technology

Barrick Gold, despite numerous COVID-19-related hurdles, made progress on the innovation front in the March quarter, with a haul truck automation trial and battery-electric underground equipment developments continuing to take place.

In its 2019 annual report, Barrick said the first stage of a project designed to retrofit an autonomous system at its Carlin gold mine, in Nevada, had been successfully completed.

In the March quarter results presentation last week, Mark Bristow, Barrick President and CEO, updated investors on this project, saying a proof of concept allowing manned and unmanned operations in the same zone had been completed at one of its mines. On top of this, the company said it was working on autonomous drilling projects.

It is underground where the biggest revelation came, with Barrick confirming trials of a 50 t battery-electric haul truck it mentioned in its 2019 annual report had commenced at its Turquoise Ridge gold operation, in Nevada. This trial involved an Artisan Z50 (graphic, pictured), the largest battery-powered underground haul truck currently on the market.

A Barrick spokesperson said the trial of the 50 t payload truck was expected to be finalised in the June quarter of this year, “with the option to extend, should the KPIs not be met”.

Barrick previously reported the introduction of a battery-powered development drill at its Hemlo underground gold mine, in Ontario, Canada, “as a first step towards establishing the potential of this new technology” in 2019. Having carried out a trial of this Sandvik DD422iE battery-powered development drill, the Barrick spokesperson confirmed the company has now acquired the unit.

Designed to use electric energy from an onboard battery during tramming and plug into a mine’s existing energy infrastructure while drilling, the Sandvik DD422iE has been used at Newmont’s Borden mine, in Ontario, among other places.

Bristow said on the call that the company believes battery-powered electric underground equipment “has the potential to lower operating costs and increase efficiencies”.

In addition to these automation and battery-electric vehicle developments, Barrick said in the results that a new global SAP Enterprise Resource Planning system was on track for its first implementation at the Nevada Gold Mines JV operations in the September quarter. This is a “more agile, less overly-customised tool, focused on getting the right information”, according to Barrick.

“This more streamlined and standardised global design will further improve our ability to report real-time cost and efficiency data and, more importantly, manage our real-time information,” Bristow said on the call.

The NGM JV implementation could lay the groundwork for a solution to be rolled out to other regions in 2021, according to Barrick.

Barrick’s underground digital innovation plan has seen the company recently adopt technologies that allow it to remotely monitor, in real time, a machine’s location, productivity and health, as well as that of operators’, Bristow said. This tool could increase its efficiencies and predictive maintenance capabilities, he added.

Barrick’s team at Loulo Underground, meanwhile, has helped develop a system that automatically turns secondary fans on and off using personal RFID tracking systems, Bristow noted on the call. This could help reduce power consumption at the mine, in Mali, and the project is now being implemented across its Africa underground mines, he said.

H-E Parts and Barrick extend maintenance relationship at Lagunas Norte

H-E Parts has helped Barrick Gold’s Lagunas Norte gold-silver miner in Peru improve maintenance and lower costs through the implementation of its Birrana™ mobile mining technology.

The US-based METS company has a long history of providing Barrick with global solutions to improve mine maintenance practice and, following a long partnership with its Pierina mine, Barrick’s Lagunas Norte operation engaged H-E Parts to provide a Komatsu 730E-7 wheel group repair program.

Located on the western flank of the Peruvian Andes at an elevation of 4,000 m above sea level, Lagunas Norte is an open-pit gold and silver mine within the Alto Chicama property. Barrick placed the mine on care and maintenance at the end of the September quarter.

H-E Parts said it put a maintenance regime in place and Lagunas Norte implemented the wheel groups.

This involved re-manufacturing the 730E-7 wheel groups, incorporating H-E Parts proprietary Birrana enhancements. This included the Birrana control fit wheel bearing system – which includes flexible spacer, hardened spacer, custom bearing design and specifications, and preload adjustment – and the Birrana brake wear gauge to allow for easy and fast brake wear measurement, reduced downtime, and improved safety.

“Once in production, Birrana enhanced wheel groups accomplished the required planned component replacement timeframes while also achieving a lower cost per operating hours,” the company said. “The product quality and service received by Barrick was expected with H-E Parts having previously supplied front and rear wheel groups for their fleet of Caterpillar 785D haul trucks operating at Barrick Pierina mine site.”

H-E Parts has now delivered over 40 wheel groups to Lagunas Norte.

“Unlike other service options available to Lagunas Norte, H-E Parts has the ability to provide major mobile component solutions across a range of equipment brands,” the company said. “This allows our customers a single maintenance solution for their mobile fleets, which is backed by decades of global experience and performance.”

SMC Test comminution benchmark hits new milestone

This month, the Australia-invented SMC Test®, used by leading mining companies over the globe to improve concentrator performance, optimise throughput, and decrease energy use, reached its 50,000th test. This makes it, the company says, the most widely used comminution test in the world for AG & SAG mills, HPGRs and crushers.

The SMC Test database spans over 1,900 orebodies, 100 countries and 47 different commodities ranging from copper, gold, and iron to diamonds and rare earths. This makes it the largest database of its kind in the world, according to SMC Testing, giving unparalleled insight into the energy required to fully extract valuable minerals from ore.

A laboratory comminution test that provides a range of information on the breakage characteristics of rock samples for use in the mining/minerals processing industry, the SMC Test uses either crushed rock pieces that are very closely sized (‘crush and select’ method), or particles cut to similar size from drill core using a diamond saw (‘cut core’ method). The latter approach is used when a limited drill core sample is available, with almost any drill core size suitable, even core that has been quartered (slivered).

The chosen rock particles are broken using a closely controlled range of impact energies on a JK Tech Drop Weight Tester. The high degree of control imposed on both the size of particles and the energies used to break them means the test is largely free of the repeatability problems that plague tumbling mill rock characterisation tests, SMC Testing says. The results from the SMC Test are used to determine the drop-weight index – a measure of the strength of the rock as well as the comminution indices Mia, Mih, and Mic. In conjunction with the Bond ball mill work index, they can be used to accurately predict the overall specific energy requirements of circuits containing AG and SAG mills, ball mills, rod mills, crushers, and high pressure grinding rolls (HPGRs).

The SMC Test also generates the JK rock breakage parameters A, b, and ta as well as the JK crusher model’s t10-Ecs matrix, all of which are generated as part of the standard report output from the test. These values can be used to simulate crushing and grinding circuits using JKTech’s simulator – JKSimMet, according to SMC Testing.

The SMC Test’s broad-ranging uses include comminution plant design, circuit performance optimisation, throughput forecasting, geo-metallurgical modelling, as well as cutting energy costs and reducing CO2 emissions.

“The precision and accuracy of the SMC Test have been the main driving forces behind its success globally,” Dr Steve Morrell, SMC Testing CEO and inventor of the SMC Test, said. “These attributes of the test are hallmarks of reliability and quality that mining companies base important forecasting decisions and financial models upon.

“It has been proven through benchmarking against an unprecedented 120 processing plants around the world, covering just about every type of comminution circuit in operation, including the largest to the smallest equipment available on the market, and treating some of the softest to the hardest ores that have been discovered to date.”

Used by 18 out of 20 of the largest mining companies in the world, the SMC Test helped Barrick Gold achieve a 20% net energy improvement and a reduction in CO2 emissions by 43,000 t, a cost saving of $5 million/y in energy costs, SMC Testing says. The comminution circuit throughput also increased annual gold production by 60,000 oz.

The approach taken to benchmark and improve Barrick’s global operations was later developed into an international guideline by the Global Mining Guidelines Group, called ‘The Morrell Method’. Morrell, meanwhile, in 2018, was inducted into International Mining Technology’s Hall of Fame.

Further increased efficiencies and cost savings include Batu Hijau in Indonesia, where a throughput decline was reversed and annual revenue increased by an estimated $150 million, while optimisation initiatives at one of Polyus Gold’s sites led to an annual increase in revenue of over $30 million with the assistance of the SMC Test. Compañía Minera Doña Inés de Collahuasi, the Chile copper asset co-owned by Anglo American and Glencore, meanwhile, has developed a 99.85% accurate throughput forecast model using the SMC Test.

“Many people assume that such large revenue benefits must mean that the SMC Test is expensive to conduct,” Morrell stated. “However, for what often works out as less than 1 cent per tonne of ore, there is a significant upside when resultant savings or revenue increases can be measured in tens-of- millions-of-dollars.”

SMC Tests can be done on as little as 5 kg of sample and ordered through a global network of approved laboratories licensed to conduct the test.

Barrick tasks Barminco with turning Hemlo into Tier Two UG gold mine

More than four months after Barrick Gold announced it intended to phase out open-pit mining and move to an underground contract mining model at its Hemlo operations in Ontario, Canada, a contract miner has been named.

Perenti confirmed its underground hard-rock contract mining subsidiary, Barminco, had received the nod from the gold miner, being issued a letter of intent to provide underground contract mining services at the mine, which has produced more than 21 Moz of gold over 30 years of operation.

Under the proposed three-year, circa-A$200 million ($131 million) mining services contract, Barminco will “bring industry-leading technology and productivity to Hemlo in support of Barrick’s goal to modernise and improve the performance of the mine and establish it as a Tier Two asset within its group”, ASX-listed Perenti said.

Barrick previously said the modernisation and refocusing plan at Hemlo was designed to turn it into a Tier Two asset with a life of mine well into the future.

Barminco’s scope includes undertaking mine development, production and haulage, using mining equipment provided by Barrick. Up until recently there was a significant degree of autonomy in the Hemlo fleet including trucks and LHDs from Sandvik and Epiroc.

Barminco said it anticipates employing more than 300 people at the operation, with works commencing in April.

Perenti Group Managing Director, Mark Norwell, said the contract award was another significant step in the group’s international growth strategy to enter attractive and stable mining jurisdictions.

“This is Barminco and Perenti’s first significant contract in North America and builds on our regional growth capabilities, after expanding into Botswana last year with an A$800 million contract. We look forward to supporting Barrick to deliver outstanding results at Hemlo,” he said.

Underground Chief Executive Officer, Paul Muller, said: “We are thrilled to be in a position to support Barrick to improve the performance of the Hemlo mine. We intend to work very closely with Barrick and all key stakeholders, including the incumbent workforce at Hemlo, the Pic River and Pic Mobert First Nations people and the Marathon community more generally to deliver a sustainable improvement in performance, thereby assuring the future of Hemlo.”

Kibali automation journey to be discussed at SME Conference

One of the most autonomous underground mines in the world, Barrick Gold’s Kibali operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) recently hit another annual production record.

The mine soared past its 2019 production guidance of 750,000 oz of gold, with 814,027 oz being delivered. This topped the previous 2018 record of 807,251 oz.

At this year’s SME MineXchange Annual Conference & Expo, in Phoenix, Arizona, on February 26, Ismali Traore, Kibali Technical Services Manager, is to reveal more about how the operation has continued to surpass expectations and how safety has become front and centre at the mine, owned 45% by Barrick, 45% by AngloGold Ashanti and 10% by SOKIMO.

In his conference abstract, Traore said, in recent years, the mine has made significant progress by implementing a fully automated production level and material handling system (MHS) at the underground mine.

This sees up to three LHDs operated simultaneously from ore passes to the crusher and multiple LHDs from the stope to the finger raises. The entire automation system is remotely operated from a control room located on surface.

In a recent presentation, the Kibali partners said the system was designed to have autonomous Sandvik LH621 LHDs work in combination with a Sanvdik AutoMine loading system (ALS). The ALS Mission Control System is incorporated with features such as traffic management, auto-loading and tipping with real time tonne-kilometres/h, and a real-time bucket weighing system that is within 3% accuracy level for each bucket trammed to the coarse ore bins (COB) at the operation.

The MHS, meanwhile, uses data obtained from the ALS to interface with SCADA via an OPC interface, according to the partners. COB levels from the SCADA system are then interfaced with ALS to manage the loading of the bins.

All information is interfaced to achieve the nameplate capacity of the hoisting system – which WorleyParsons provided the operating philosophy for and Winder Controls (member of the SIEMAG TECBERG Group) provided the winder design for – while taking into consideration the availability of the ALS to equate the total MHS availability, they said.

In its objective of becoming one of the most efficient Tier One mines globally where safety is a focal point of the operation, a significant amount of time was spent on the traffic management and human interaction with the autonomous mining equipment, Traore said.

This is something Barrick President and Chief Executive, Mark Bristow, picked up on last month, saying the mine is continuing its technological advance with the introduction of truck and drill training simulators and the integration of systems for personnel safety tracking and ventilation demand control.

Traore is to expand on the important safety protocols implemented to mitigate the risk of collision between this equipment and humans within the automated system during his presentation.

Barrick continues to adopt new technologies at Kibali gold mine

Barrick Gold says its 45%-owned Kibali gold mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is continuing its technological advances with the introduction of truck and drill training simulators and the integration of systems for personnel safety tracking and ventilation on demand.

The mine, which is owned 45% by AngloGold Ashanti and 10% by SOKIMO, surpassed its 2019 guidance of 750,000 oz in 2019, delivering 814,027 oz in another record year, Barrick said this week.

Barrick President and Chief Executive, Mark Bristow, told a media briefing that Kibali’s continuing stellar performance was a demonstration of how a modern, Tier One gold mine could be developed and operated successfully in what is one of the world’s most remote and infrastructurally under-endowed regions.

He also noted that, in line with Barrick’s policy of employing, training and advancing locals, the mine was managed by a majority Congolese team, supported by a corps of majority Congolese supervisors and personnel.

Kibali is already one of the world’s most highly automated underground gold mines, with the operation’s backbone being Sandvik’s Automine Multi Fleet system, supervised on surface by a single operator. In a world first, it allows a fleet of up to five LHDs to be operated autonomously, 750 m below the surface, within the same 6 m x 6 m production drive while using designated passing bays to maintain traffic flow, the company says. A similar system is used in the production levels to feed the ore passes, according to Barrick.

The company said it had now introduced truck and drill training simulators and integrated systems for personnel safety tracking and ventilation demand control, adding that the simulators will also be used to train operators from Barrick’s Tanzanian mines.

Bristow also said that the company was maintaining a strong focus on energy efficiency at the mine through the development of its grid stabiliser project, scheduled for commissioning in the June quarter of 2020.

He said: “This uses new battery technology to offset the need for running diesel generators as a spinning reserve and ensures we maximise the use of renewable hydro power. The installation of three new elution diesel heaters will also help improve efficiencies and control power costs. It’s worth noting that our clean energy strategy not only achieves cost and efficiency benefits but also once again reduces Kibali’s environmental footprint.”

Bristow said despite the pace of production and the size and complexity of the mine, Kibali was maintaining its solid safety and environmental records, certified by ISO 45001 and ISO 14001 accreditations.

Barrick Pueblo Viejo natural gas plant about to power up

Barrick Gold says the Pueblo Viejo power plant is expected to receive its first natural gas in the March quarter as it looks to lower greenhouse gas emissions and cut costs, in line with the group’s clean and efficient energy strategy.

Pueblo Viejo entered into a 10-year supply agreement with AES Andrés DR, SA, in May 2018, for the provision of natural gas and the construction of a gas pipeline from the AES gas terminal to the Quisqueya I power plant for the mine. This is also expected to benefit the San Pedro region which has not previously had access to this cleaner alternative fuel, the company said.

Owned 60% by Barrick and 40% by Newmont Goldcorp, Pueblo Viejo is expected to produce 550,000-600,000 oz of gold in 2019 at all-in sustaining costs of $610-650/oz.

Barrick President and Chief Executive, Mark Bristow, says, since the commissioning of the Quisqueya I power plant, in 2013, Pueblo Viejo has looked for ways to reduce the impact of its air emissions on the environment and the cost of energy production.

“The conversion of Quisqueya I to natural gas will help reduce Pueblo Viejo’s power generation costs by some 30%. Greenhouse gases will also be cut by 30% and nitrogen oxide by 85%, and the mine’s dependence on oil will be significantly decreased,” he said.

The gas pipeline is facilitating the conversion of other power plants in the region to translate into further reduction in greenhouse emissions and significant savings in energy costs within the Dominican national grid, according to Barrick. Recently other power producers in the area have announced the conversion into natural gas of an additional 525 MW, it said.

Barrick said: “Pueblo Viejo is also contributing to the Dominican electricity sector with the construction of the Bonao III power substation as part of a public/private alliance with the Dominican Transmission Entity and Empresa Generadora de Electricidad Haina (EGE Haina) which owns the power plant Quisqueya 2 located next to Quisqueya I. The substation is expected to help to provide more stability to the country’s national grid. Finalisation is scheduled for mid-next year.”

Bristow noted: “The conversion agreement, the natural gas pipeline and the Bonao III substation represent a step forward, not only for Pueblo Viejo but for the Dominicans, as it shows not just environmental benefits, but also a significant reduction of the country’s electricity cost, less dependency on crude oil and more stability for the national power grid.”

El Nino arrives early for Premier, Nevada Gold Mines

Premier Gold Mines says processing of ore has commenced from the El Nino gold mine at the joint venture South Arturo mine, in Nevada, USA.

South Arturo is located in the Carlin Trend, and is a joint venture between Premier (40%) and Nevada Gold Mines (60%), a joint venture company owned by Barrick Gold and Newmont-Goldcorp with Barrick as the operator.

The El Nino mine was developed on-time and on-budget, with ore now being processed ahead of schedule, according to Premier Gold. Production is expected to ramp up in the second half of 2019, with a first gold bar pour having been held on September 26.

Premier said attributable gold production is estimated to meet the high end of its 5,000-10,000 oz guidance for the year and it expects that, owing to the high-grade ore at El Nino, South Arturo will have a positive effect on cash flow for the company.

Ewan Downie, President and CEO of Premier, said: “We are excited to once again realise the benefits of South Arturo, increasing the company’s production profile with an anticipated reduction in overall operating costs. Premier continues to benefit from the stellar performance of our partner, Nevada Gold, and its demonstrated ability to consistently execute on schedule.”

In the second half of 2019, surface and underground drilling will resume in an effort to continue delineating and expanding mineralisation at El Nino. El Nino is a high-grade underground deposit situated down plunge of the Phase 2 pit, where mining was concluded in 2017. Pre-stripping of the Phase 1 open-pit project, a second mine being constructed at South Arturo, is ongoing with a target of production in the second half of 2020. Work is also continuing to optimise heap leach material with a potential future decision to proceed with the development of a heap leach facility on the property, the company said.

Surface haulage automation is being tested out at South Arturo, where ASI Mining has successfully completed a proof of concept (POC) utilising five haulage units “that have delivered over 5.5 Mt faster than any other similar POC in the industry”, Barrick Gold said last month.