Tag Archives: Côté

Metso Outotec to supply Vertimills, cone crusher to IAMGOLD’s Côté project

Metso Outotec is to supply key comminution technology to IAMGOLD Corporation and Sumitomo Metal Mining’s joint venture Côté gold project, in north-eastern Ontario, Canada.

The delivery consists of two energy-efficient Vertimill® 4500 grinding mills (pictured) and one MP1250 cone crusher for the Côté gold project.

Andy Lingenfelter, Vice President, Minerals Sales, North & Central America, Metso Outotec, said: “Low energy and wear part consumption, as well as process flexibility, were decisive factors for the Côté gold project team when selecting the comminution equipment.

“Metso Outotec was consulted during the prefeasibility study and supported IAMGOLD on several projects. IAMGOLD’s technical team had solid confidence in the Vertimill technology, and they were also familiar with the high-performance capability of the MP crushers.”

The value of the order exceeds €10 million ($11.9 million) and has been booked in Minerals’ March quarter 2021 orders received.

Côté comes with estimated contained gold reserves of over 7 Moz. Construction of the gold mine commenced in late 2020, and is expected be completed in mid-2023.

Autonomous drilling transition sets IAMGOLD’s Essakane up for longer mine life

The roots of IAMGOLD’s automation ambitions at the Côté gold project in Ontario, Canada, can be traced back to remote and auto drilling developments at its 90%-owned Essakane mine in Burkina Faso, which, according to a recent presentation from Zhi Jun Zhu, has resulted in significant operational benefits.

IAMGOLD launched the first automated drill rig in West Africa with assistance from Epiroc back in February at Essakane. This followed a series of automation steps carried out on the company’s fleet of Epiroc PV235 blasthole drills, beginning with the ‘Operator Assist’ phase back in 2016.

Added to the seven PV235 blasthole drills on site are five Sandvik D45KSs. These drills are working in medium-to-hard material of 100-250 Mpa rock where they drill 229 mm and 152 mm diameter holes on 10 m benches. They come with a single pass limit of up to 12.2 m in down-the-hole drilling mode.

The business case for adopting automation at the site, which began operating in 2010 and was expanded in 2013 to reach a mining capacity of 55 Mt/y, was centred around a capex versus opex dynamic – should the company purchase a new rig to increase drilling performance by 15%, or try to increase the use of automation on its existing seven PV235s to hit this goal?

Alongside this, the company wanted to provide its best drillers with the ability to operate multiple rigs simultaneously, enhance operational safety, support continued sustainability, and improve performance and productivity.

Zhu, who worked at Essakane as Technical Services Coordinator for five years prior to his current role as Autonomous Systems Engineer at Côté, explained during the recent GMG-led Autonomous Drills Virtual Forum: “During the start-up of the mine, the required fragmentation size was difficult to achieve because the ore was coming from the soft area where it was highly weathered and fractured. As the mine depth increased, the material got harder. As a result, the blasting fragmentation became harder to achieve. At the same time as the percentage of hard material increased, productivity of the crusher became a concern and bottleneck.”

With the last life of mine study in 2018 showing a required increase in the total material mined to keep up an average gold production rate of 400,000 oz/y – and the requirement to strip hard material from phase four, five, six and seven to reach a new ore zone from 2026 – the company needed to embed a suitable level of blasthole drill automation in advance of another expansion in the mine life.

Prior to 2016, Essakane required two people to operate a PV235 – one to guide the machine to the desired location and another to operate it.

This was neither safe or efficient, Zhu said, adding that hole deviation and sub-optimal fragmentation were also common with this setup.

Breaking down the project key performance indicators after the initial ramp up of remote and autonomous operation, Zhu said the company was looking for:

  • An improved drilling penetration rate of 15%:
    • 23 m/operating hour (propel + setup + drill); and
    • 28 m/drilling hour.
  • Improved drilling productivity from 63% to 75%:
    • Eliminate stoppage delays associated with lunch and shift change;
    • Lean drilling, less propel/tram and setup/positioning time.
  • Increased drilling capacity from 81,714 to 108,800 drilling meters/rig/year.

Having progressed from the ‘Rig Operator Assist’ mode in 2016, which used Epiroc’s Rig Control System, Surface Manager, Auto Level, first generation AutoDrill module, and Hole Navigation; the company has progressed to the ‘Rig Remote Operation’ phase where (Multi) Remote and AutoDrill generation two functions are employed.

This second-generation system represents a “big advance”, Zhu said.

“The system is very smart and could continuously optimise the engagement to deliver the desired result,” he said. “The only manual input required is the ‘aggressiveness’ setting, which balances the bit life with the penetration rate.”

This led to the launch of its first fully automated drill rig on February 8.

While the project is on course to hit all the above-mentioned KPIs, there have been other benefits including an operating hours improvement of 645 hours/year/rig; a 14,835 m/year/rig drilling metres gain; a $356,040/rig incremental annual production benefit; and a net cost saving of $202,794/rig compared with the equivalent rental equipment drilling cost.

All of these add to fewer people being in dangerous areas on the mine site – with all operators in remote operating centres – more consistent operation from a fuels/lubricants and drilling consumables perspective and, of course, less maintenance.

Reflecting on the implementation, Zhu noted several key required inputs for a successful automation implementation program.

“It is a critical requirement to have a reliable network connection between the on-board device and the remote operations office,” he said.

On top of this, the sensors on the machines need to be kept in top shape, meaning maintenance teams should evaluate their health on a regular basis and always keep spare parts available.

And, while fewer people will be needed to oversee drilling in autonomous mode, the skills level of the required personnel will be that much greater.

Some of the next steps at Essakane include improving the bandwidth and latency time for real-time control of multi-automated drills, developing a preventive maintenance system checklist, and carrying out a business case study on upgrading four PV235s to either Teleremote/AutoDrill 2 operation.

Zhu will no doubt bring these learnings and opportunities to the Côté gold development in Canada, which is expected to operate six blasthole drills in fully autonomous mode when ramped up, alongside more than 20 fully automated haul trucks. These will help the mine reach an average production rate of 367,000 oz/y of gold.

Wood to deliver EPCM contract at IAMGOLD’s Côté Gold project

Wood, the global engineering and consulting company, has confirmed it will deliver the engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) contract for the $1.3 billion Côté Gold open-pit mine for operator IAMGOLD Corp, supported by JV partner Sumitomo Metal Mining.

Côté is a world-class deposit located in northern Ontario, with estimated contained gold reserves of over 7 Moz. IAMGOLD wants to develop the site to be a model of a modern Canadian mine as it seeks to efficiently unlock the reserves, with Wood providing EPCM services for the project. This project is anticipated to generate over 1,000 jobs during construction and 450 during operations.

Dave Lawson, President, Mining & Minerals at Wood, said: “This project strengthens our relationship with IAMGOLD as a trusted full life cycle delivery partner and it solidifies Wood’s position as a global leader in the development of gold mines.

“Beginning with work on the initial scoping study in 2011, we have worked closely with IAMGOLD to guide the project toward successful execution, helping to identify more than $450 million of improvements in net present value. We were able to do so because of our unrivalled expertise in gold extraction technology having worked on some of the largest and most technically complex gold projects in the world.”

Over the last eight years, Wood has been working with IAMGOLD in every aspect of the project, adding, it says, value at every stage with innovative design and project delivery solutions. Wood’s latest scope of work includes engineering, procurement and construction management for the 36,000 t/d conventional gold processing plant, tailings and water management.

Gordon Stothart, President and CEO of IAMGOLD, said: “We are pleased to move to construction on the Côté Gold Project with our long-time engineering partner Wood. We look forward to bringing this project from concept to reality with their team.”

The Côté project is expected to expand IAMGOLD’s production profile for future growth, by bringing greater geographic diversity and a reduction in costs – enabling sustainable reserve growth and supply stability as demand factors shift in an uncertain environment, Wood said.

Construction of the gold mine commenced in late 2020, and is expected be completed in mid-2023. It is expected to leverage both autonomous drilling and haulage technology.

IAMGold weighs autonomous drilling, haulage at Côté gold project

IAMGold has provided an update on its majority-owned Côté gold project in Ontario, Canada, which included confirmation of a key approval and the mention of studies on implementing autonomous haulage and drilling technologies.

The late 2018 feasibility study on the project demonstrated its potential to produce 460,000 oz/y of gold at all-in sustaining costs of around $700/oz for the first six years of a 16-year mine life.

It said this week that the project has received approval for its application under Section 36 of the Fisheries Act (Canada). This is a key milestone in attaining permits relating to impacts on fish habitats and tailings management, according to the company.

Since the feasibility study was published in late 2018, IAMGold says it has been very active in “de-risking” the project.

As of the end of May, the company says it has:

  • Completed additional resource and geotechnical studies, and advanced mine planning;
  • Completed over 60% of detailed project engineering, including the tailings facility;
  • Following this level of engineering, obtained firm bids and secure prices on all major equipment. To date, 55% of project cost has firm pricing, further reducing technical and cost risks for the project leading to a refinement in costs and metrics as IAMGold works toward a construction decision;
  • Completed a pre-construction camp on the adjacent Chester site;
  • Completed all tree clearing needed for initiating construction – work was carried out with a First Nations partner firm earlier in 2020, before standing down in respect of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Carried out detailed implementation studies on technology, including automated truck haulage and drilling, and commenced discussions with regulators regarding the use of automated equipment;
  • Advanced development of construction protocols in consideration of COVID-19; and
  • Completed 4,700 m of drilling at the Gosselin Zone, a potential satellite pit 1.5 km northeast of Côté.

The company has also signed Impacts and Benefits Agreement with First Nations partners, approved the Environmental Assessment and Closure Plan, and advanced permitting.

The 2018 feasibility study envisaged a truck-shovel operation, assuming 220 t autonomous trucks and 34 m3 shovels, and a 36,000 t/d mineral processing circuit incorporating primary crushing, secondary crushing, tertiary high pressure grinding roll crushing, ball milling, vertical stirred milling, gravity concentration and cyanide leaching, followed by gold recovery using carbon-in-pulp, stripping and electrowinning.

Gordon Stothart, IAMGold President and CEO, said: “A key part of the future of IAMGold is our organic growth pipeline, starting with the Côté Gold Project in northern Ontario.

“The transformative impact of Côté Gold on IAMGold’s production profile and global cost structure, in addition to its long mine life in an attractive jurisdiction, establishes clear and compelling reasons for this project to proceed.

“Our current financial position supports our proposed growth plans, with over $800 million in cash on hand, access to a currently undrawn $500 million committed revolving credit facility, and expected stronger operating cash flows from our current mining operations, including anticipated contributions from Saramacca at Rosebel and steady performance from Essakane and Westwood.”

A formal decision on the construction of the Côté Gold Project will be made in conjunction with IAMGold’s partner, Sumitomo Metal Mining, given a satisfactory environment for construction to proceed with appropriate work protocols in light of COVID-19 and without risk of interruption.

IAMGold said: “The company is currently working with SMM toward a formal decision. A decision in the coming months would allow construction to commence later this year with a targeted completion date of mid-2023.”